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Friday, May 23,2014

Six years of success

Hunter Park GardenHouse hosting plant sale to celebrate anniversary

by BECKY McKENDRY
Becky McKendry/City Pulse

FRIDAY, May 23 — To celebrate six years of teaching Lansing’s Eastside residents to embrace their green thumbs, the Hunter Park GardenHouse, 1400 E. Kalamazoo St. in Lansing, is hosting a community plant sale on May 31.

The sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature live music from local blues artist Deacon Earl and free beet cupcakes. People can purchase spring gardening kits, soil mix bags and more. The sale is also included as a passport stop for the citywide Be a Tourist in Your Own Town event held on the same day.

This is the second year that the garden house will host a plant sale during the Be a Tourist in Your Own Town event. Hunter Park GardenHouse Director Rita O’Brien said she expects the turnout to be even greater than the 250 people that came last summer.

“We’ve done a lot more promotion this year,” she said. “We’re really trying to get the word out.”

The Hunter Park GardenHouse was built in 2008 — a result of a Cool Cities initiative received by the city and the Allen Neighborhood Center. O’Brien said she sees constant evolution as she looks back on her three years working for the garden house. The types of public workshops offered has diversified beyond basic gardening classes — they now teach everything from beekeeping to brewing beer — and the number of workshops have increased as well. They aim to complete 20 workshops by the end of this year.

“We’re just always trying to grow and keep up with what interests our community,” she said.

During the anniversary sale, O’Brien and her team of garden house volunteers will also be promoting their latest undertaking with the Allen Neighborhood Center, the Fruit Tree Project, which partners with local kids in the Youth Service Corps to harvest unused fruit in people’s yards. The harvested fruit will be divided among neighbors, the Allen Neighborhood Food Pantry and the Youth Service Corps’ culinary program.

“Sometimes people don’t even know they have fruit trees on their property and we’re trying to keep it from going to waste,” she said.

O’Brien said the Fruit Tree Project is a prime example of what the garden house stands for — reaching out to neighbors and promoting knowledge about the greenery in their neighborhoods.

“There’s always been a big educational component to what we do,” she said. “We want people to know how to grow things in their own backyards, eat better and be more sustainable.”

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