Land Bank helps with interest in urban farming

Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 4:57 PM EDT
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Through the Ingham County Land Bank's Garden Program, anyone can rent a plot of land and use it to garden, farm their own food, or plant some flowers.

During the coronavirus pandemic, organizers say they're seeing some more interest than they're used to.

"We've definitely seen a bump in interest this year." said Program Coordinator John Krohn. "People have more time on their hands and they see the value of getting your food from a local source."

Krohn says local food means less pollution, less labor, and a healthier lifestyle.

It also keeps money within the economy.

"This is sort of bringing some things into focus when it comes to how valuable our local establishments are, and local farms are part of that. They go right back out and spend on local businesses here in Lansing," said Krohn.

Krohn says the land bank helps to break down the barriers that prevent most people from successfully planting, making it easier for them to start their gardening without a hitch.

"Some of the biggest challenges are poor, compacted sterile urban soils, we'll come in with a tractor, plow and till it and add compost and organic matter, do soil testing and make sure that it's not high in lead, things like that," said Krohn.

Despite the increased interest this year, there's no shortage of land, assistance or resources for prospective planters.

"One special thing about Lansing is there are many ways to access land for people that want to get involved with growing their own food," said Julie Lehman of the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

"Really, the only scarcity is the people that want to get out there and do it so if this causes more people to want to get their hands in the dirt and actually understand how the food system works, there's capacity for that and we welcome that."

As of right now, the Ingham County Land Bank has leased out about 200 lots through their garden program.

Krohn says they have more than 600 remaining lots available for farming, gardening, or beautification.

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