Oct. 29 2010 12:00 AM

The Urbandale Farm Project gets federal money to expand on the east side

Friday, Oct. 29 — A $90,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping Lansing get back to its roots.

The USDA’s Farmer’s Market Promotion Program awarded the nonprofit Urban Farm Project. The project will use it to expand the half-acre Urbandale farm at the south end of Hayford Street on Lansing’s east side. Such grants are awarded to help improve and expand a variety of domestic agriculture operations nationwide.

Specifically, the project wants to establish a “veggie cart” run by volunteers in the summer, creating a mobile market around the Urbandale Neighborhood. The money will also help create a six-month apprenticeship program for Urbandale residents, to help train those interested in urban farming.

The grant will be administered by the Allen Neighborhood Center, an organization dedicated to promoting the revitalization, growth and well being of Lansing’s east side. According to the center’s director, Joan Nelson, the area is perfect for projects like this.

“There’s lots of empty lots there, especially in lower elevations of the floodplain,” she said.

Much of the Urbandale Neighborhood falls within a floodplain, making it difficult for living, but great for farming.

“It offers opportunities for organizations like this to make use of the empty land, and to use it in a way to benefit the people that live there,” Nelson said.

Urbandale began last spring as a joint effort between two women: Laura DeLind and Linda Anderson. The half-acre was granted by the Ingham County Land Bank with plans to eventually expand the project to as many as five acres. That’s where the USDA grant comes in.

At present, the Urbandale project consists of volunteers from across the Lansing area and MSU. The ultimate goal is to help Urbandale residents take ownership of the farm, Nelson said.