On August 22, 2015, I (Clara Martinez) had the privilege to adventure with Brittany Gordon on one of the most inspiring rides about town I have experienced here in Lansing. The Greater Lansing Food Bank celebrated another year of beautiful and beneficial community gardens and amazing volunteerism. With over 100 gardens in 7 different counties, our Food Bank relies mainly on community members’ outstanding capacity to tend to their neighborhood green spots and maintain upkeep of a variety of crops. We were fortunate enough to visit four different gardens between East Lansing and South Lansing and get to know more about these not-so-hidden pockets of gold.
Courtesy of the Greater Lansing Food Bank (above), our itinerary shows our first stop as the Lilac Garden! Being the oldest community garden in the Greater Lansing area, Lilac Garden had a rich sense of history, variety of produce, and exuded apparent ownership from its caretakers. Michigan State run and providing something intriguing to do to its mainly immigrant users, Lilac Garden has a special green space in the City’s heart.
Next up, we ventured to Enchanted Forest!
With fresh cucumbers from the garden for cucumber water, a nice salad and sweets, this Garden’s facility community was ready for us to enjoy their garden’s first year in bloom. It was exciting to appreciate with them the success they planted after months of planning through the dreary January and February of last year.
After resisting leaving, we were on to the Jolly Ranchers of South Lansing:
Greeted with a song by the garden team, even more delicious sweets, and a beautiful dusk setting of a vibrant variation in produce, Team Jolly Ranchers’ devotion to their garden was easy to recognize, but not easy to beat. Fellow community gardeners, keep your eye on this garden. More amazing things to come!
Our last stop along our way was at the magical Summerplace. Nestled between Jolly and Waverly roads is an apartment complex hub for multiple populations of refugees forming even tighter knit communities, and over 99 plots in their community garden. As many of these families come from agrarian backgrounds and economies, gardening has brought them together in the southwest side of Lansing, creating a home away from home for them. It was inspiring to spend a half hour with these residents, enjoy another Michigan sunset, and be fed. Brittany and I took home a fair amount of food and feasted that evening, all thanks to the kindness and warmth of a community based in sharing, growing, and enjoying the company of a stranger.
All in all, it was an experience I will remember and think of fondly in my time in this diverse, hidden gem of a capital city, Lansing.