Demand for Community Gardens Grows in West MI

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Community gardens in western Michigan have seen an increase in demand for garden plots over the past two years.

The Hillcrest Community Garden in the Fulton Heights neighborhood of Grand Rapids already has a waiting list of 50 people for this growing season. Community gardens offer a variety of plot sizes that can be reserved. Tenants grow everything from vegetables and fruits to perennial flowers. The Hillcrest Community Garden generally divides its land into approximately 100 plots. The garden will offer full, half and quarter plots.

Mark Staves, a garden volunteer, said: “Some people who come here just don’t have a suitable place at home (to grow). They may have a home, but they have shade or not enough space, or they may not have a home. They could live in an apartment.

He attributed the rise in demand for gardening to people wanting to socialize safely during the pandemic and for food security.

“I think there’s some interest in food security or just being able to grow things that they can’t get anywhere else,” he said. “We have families here who may have grown up in other parts of the world, and they can’t find the produce they’re used to, but they can grow it here.

The cost of food in the United States rose 7.9% year-on-year in February 2022, according to the Trading Economics website. This is the highest food inflation since July 1981.

Staves also said that due to the warmer and longer seasons Michigan has experienced recently, certain fruits like figs are now able to grow in the state.

The MSU Kent County Extension Office told News 8 they have also seen renewed interest in online canning and gardening workshops.

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