Hunter Park GardenHouse provides gardening education and food resources for Lansing community

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The Hunter Park GardenHouse in Lansing, Michigan is a one-acre year-round community garden that program director Egypt Krohn described as being in the “heart of the east side.”  

The program, which was founded in 2008, is run through the Allen Neighborhood Center and is a place where community members can go to get fresh food and learn more about growing produce.

“Our program is to improve community food sovereignty through education and empowerment. We want to teach our neighbors how to grow food at whatever level is right for them,” Krohn said.

The GardenHouse has many different programs to educate the community on food and plant growth. One of the most popular programs is the Saturday morning workshop series, which are weekly classes held at Hunter Park that focus on a variety of topics ranging from basic gardening to edible mushroom cultivation.

Krohn explained that part of what makes the workshop series special is that they have experts within the community host the classes rather than professional educators.

“We’re really excited to uplift our fellow community members as experts in their fields and bring them in as our instructors,” Krohn said.

Krohn also explained that the workshops are offered to the community for free with no questions asked; but they also ask those who feel they can afford it to donate 15 to 30 dollars if they would like to do so.

On Mar. 23, the GardenHouse hosted a “Introduction to Mushroom Cultivation” workshop to teach attendees how to grow edible mushrooms at home. It was instructed by Chris Swinson, Chief Fungal Officer of Mycophile’s Garden, a company that grows and sells mushrooms and mushroom grow kits.

The GardenHouse greenhouse was packed on Saturday, Mar. 23 for the mushroom cultivation workshop with guest speaker Chris Swinson.

Swinson said that he hoped attendees walked away from the workshop with a better basic understanding of growing mushrooms.

“I would love to see more people get into mushroom growing, it’s a really sustainable food source. It requires very little input, and some of them you can grow from scraps and random stuff outside, so in a place like this, in the city, it would be really cool if people could start growing mushrooms,” Swinson said.

Stephanie Hirsch was an attendee at the workshop and is part of a local gardening club in St. Johns, Michigan. She said that she was excited to start growing mushrooms at a small scale.

“It (the workshop) made it seem a little simpler, it took away some of the fear of taking on something so big and mysterious like mushrooms… and learning more about the benefits of some of them, I just think it would be cool to try,” Hirsch said.

Deanna Mitchell, Produce Donations Coordinator of the Allen Neighborhood Center, began running the workshop series this year, and she said that the mushroom cultivation workshop was the most successful in terms of community turnout.

Mitchell also explained that the workshops are popular because the Lansing residents who live in urban areas may not have the knowledge or resources to garden at home.

“By having education here, they can come and learn and take this knowledge home. It helps our environment if they can go home and start gardening at home,” Mitchell said. “Some people think that if they live in an urban setting that they can’t garden, so this gives them the knowledge to do that.” 

In the future, the GardenHouse hopes to expand the amount of food it gives out for free to the community. It also is planning to add stone pathways through the community garden to become more accessible to visitors and local students who take field trips to the park.

Krohn also explained that one aspect of the GardenHouse that they are trying to improve upon is providing culturally relevant food to residents who may be from other parts of the world. Although different regions have different growing seasons, she said that they are going to attempt to grow tropical crops for seed by utilizing the GardenHouses’ warm greenhouse.

“It’s a small action, but I think it is really important to the folks that it matters to,” Krohn said.

To learn more about the Hunter Park GardenHouse and its programs, visit

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