Healthy soil in your backyard

By Dylan Sowle

Time to prepare your backyard gardens — here’s how

Wednesday, April 3 — The Allen Neighborhood Center has already been hard at work this year teaching gardening and small-scale agriculture in an urban area. On Saturday, it continues that effort with a “Soil Care in Home and Community Gardens” workshop at the Hunter Park GardenHouse.

The workshop is all about creating healthy soil for sustaining community and backyard gardens. Interested participants and would-be gardeners can meet at the ANC’s year-round GardenHouse in Hunter Park, 1400 E. Kalamazoo St., from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m.

Anji Reynolds, gardening educator at the center, says the GardenHouse functions as a community gathering space all year long that hosts many of their workshops.

“This year we’ve done workshops on keeping backyard chickens in an urban area, one on herbal tea and medicinal plants, and a seed-starting workshop,” Reynolds said.

This week’s workshop features guest speaker Brian Allnutt, a former member of the Student Organic Farm at Michigan State University. Allnutt, an organic gardening instructor at Washtenaw Community College, will teach about different types of soil, which kinds to look for and how to create a healthy garden.

“One thing that I know people in Lansing have trouble with is clay in their soil and acidity, and he’ll definitely talk about balancing that,” Reynolds says.

This workshop just scratches the surface of ANC’s offerings. It also hosts a nine-session urban gardeners certification program and a community-supported agriculture initiative. It also hosts a Garden In A Box project that provides low-income houses with 2-foot-by-2-foot cedar garden boxes, as well as soil and plants to go with it.

Reynolds said Saturday’s workshop is for anyone potentially interested in starting their own garden, as well as for veteran green thumbs. All of Allen Neighborhood Center’s workshops have a suggested donation of $5 and ask that you RSVP at 517-999-3910.

Click here for more info on the workshops at the Allen Neighborhood Center.