By Jack Crawley
Old Town Times staff writer
One of the Residents of Old Town Group’s primary activities is the community garden on Cedar Street. In fact, the garden is so important to the ROOT Group that it serves as its meeting place during warm months, which is why the meeting on Thursday, Sept. 22 was held there.
The meeting was smaller than usual, probably because the date was changed. Only ROOT Group President Mike Davis Jr. and executive director of the Old Town Commercial Association Brittney Hoszkiw, attended. In keeping with Old Town’s unique style, the ROOT Group holds working meetings, where members discuss projects and goals while caring for the garden.
The ROOT Group is a relatively new committee of OTCA. The new group was established in 2009 by Jenelle Jagmin. Hoszkiw describes the committee as less of an issues-based group and more of an “empowerment” group. “It’s a grassroots project, and it’s about what volunteers are interested in,” she said.
Chad Badgero, who started the Cedar Street community garden and is currently the communications coordinator for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, said, “Neighborhood safety, the community garden, neighborhood relations, community watch and stuff like that weren’t being addressed, so that’s why it started.”
Badgero began planning the garden with help from the Ingham County Land Bank when he was the community outreach coordinator for the OTCA. “The Ingham County Land Bank was actually really instrumental in establishing that [the garde],” Badgero said. He credits Eric Schertzing, Ingham County Treasurer and chairman of Ingham County Land Bank, with guiding his search for a suitable plot.
Badgero estimated that there are about 10 people committed to the Cedar Street garden. Davis said that one of the ROOT Group’s goals is to get more residents involved in it and that they are working on giving people incentives to come to the garden, such as giving people their own produce to grow. Davis believes that “making people own it” will increase local participation in the garden.
To participate in the Cedar Street garden, residents just need to begin planting. There are plenty of tools available on site for gardeners to use as well. “Anybody can grab the keys to the shed (which was built by a team of volunteers from Lowe’s) from the Commercial Association and use the tools,” Hoszkiw said.