July 23 2013 12:00 AM

Tour shows off Lansing community gardens

Bikers on last year‘s Garden Project Community Garden Tour speak with Rita O’Brien at the Hunter Park GardenHouse. Photo by Alex Bryan

Monday, July 22 — By foot, by bike or by hybrid school bus — you have your choice of locomotion if you attend the Greater Lansing Food Bank Garden Project’s Community Garden Tour on Thursday. Community gardens will combine forces for this annual event, which begins at the Garden Project Resource Center in Foster Park on Lansing’s east side.

Community gardens have been the mission of the Garden Project since it started growing 30 years ago, and the tour has been happening for almost as long. But there are more gardens to visit lately; five years ago the Garden Project had 25 gardens in their network, but today they’re pushing 100 and serving an estimated 7,000 people.

“Self-help and sustainability have been our mission for 33 years,” said Alex Bryan, Garden Project manager. “By helping people grow their own food, we can achieve that goal. The tour is a great way for the community to be proud of itself and the great strides we’ve taken here.”

In partnership with the Ingham County Land Bank, the tour will highlight what’s growing in an array of nearby gardens. “Some gardens serve large refugee populations,” Bryan said. “Others integrate school curricula, some are for donation, and others still are simply neighborhood gathering spaces to grow a stronger community. It’s important for us to share the many faces of the community gardens.”

Tours begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Garden Project Resource Center. The bike tour will travel first to Just B Yoga, a donation-driven yoga studio in REO Town that has expanded to include a thriving community garden and farmers market. From there, bikers will move on to gardens at Clifford Park, Moores Park, Letts Community Center, Riddle Elementary School and Prospect Place.

Those who prefer to ride can travel by hybrid school bus, donated by Dean Trailways. This tour will move from the Resource Center to Lansing Roots, a new project designed to help limited resource and/or socially disadvantaged residents begin market gardening and farming enterprises in an incubator farm setting. From there, tour-goers will visit Mason Community Garden, Webster Farms Community Garden, North School Community Garden and Orchard Court Community Garden. As for the walking tour, gardens will be around the east side, closer to the Resource Center.

“Gardeners are rightfully proud, and the tour is a great way for us to highlight their accomplishments,” Bryan said. “From tomatoes and sunflowers to child education and neighborhood stabilization, the community gardens are worthy of being displayed.”

RSVPs are requested. The tour is free, but a donation of $1 to $20 is suggested.

Garden Project Community Garden Tour

Greater Lansing Food Bank

5:30 p.m. Thursday

Departs from the Foster Park Resource Center, 2401 Marcus St., south end of Foster Park, one block south of Kalamazoo.

RSVP at gardenproject@greaterlansingfoodbank.org or (517) 853-7809.