Youth encouraged to help grow neighborhood gardens

More than 120 vacant parcels in the six neighborhoods surrounding downtown Kalamazoo are available for gardens in the coming growing season.

"We have plenty to choose from," says Caitie Boring, community garden and beautification coordinator for the Kalamazoo County Land Bank. The properties were once residential. Many have come to the Land Bank through foreclosures.

Applications are being accepted now through March 21 for those who want to be part of the Land Bank's Youth  Garden Grant program. The idea is to clean, maintain and beautify property owned by the Land Bank.

Participants who obtain funding must agree to maintain at least two parcels. Funding is capped at $2,000 per project and participants are expected to raise further funds as necessary on their own.

Those who are approved for the program will be those who include youth in the experience, which is to be led by an adult with gardening expertise who can teach planting and growing methods to young people.

Participants will be expected to have their own tools or know where to obtain them, and have a plan for the garden they want to grow. Groups are encouraged to grow vegetables, although flowers, trees and low growing plants also are acceptable.

Participants also must be able to obtain liability insurance.

Using $15 million in federal neigbhorhood stabilization funds awarded to the City of Kalamazoo, the city and the Land Bank are working together to purchase tax and bank foreclosed properties with the objective of stabilizing communities and the housing market. 

Writer: Kathy Jennings
Source: Catie Boring, Kalamazoo County Land Bank
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