Saturday, March 14, 2009

Phil does it again!

What a wonderful representation of Genesee Master Gardener Volunteers at last Saturday's 2009 Keep Genesee Beautiful Community Beautification Leadership Conference, as conference attendees, and, most notably when the winners were announced for the 2008 Beautification Awards! Of the thirteen projects which received awards, six had Master Gardener involvement! Congratulations to MGV's Greg Tobin, Ginny O'Brien, Phil Downs, Carolyn Meekins, and Dora & Jacky King, and MG trainee Mildred Smith, and the MGV's who assist on these projects, we are very proud of your great work!
KGCB Grant proposals are available now for the 2009 season, and are due one week from today on March 20. For more information, go to:
and click on the 2009 Mini Grant Application tab, and check out what is involved - you may want to propose your project for one of the 2009 Ruth Mott Beautification Mini-Grants this year!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Press Clips

Urban gardens gain popularity as economy stumbles
Posted by Elizabeth Shaw
The Flint Journal
March 05, 2009

FLINT, Michigan -- Record numbers of tax foreclosures are looming all across Genesee County this year. The Genesee County Land Bank has 2,477 vacant residential lots in the city of Flint, with city officials planning to knock down another 500 abandoned houses this year -- double last year's number.

But a growing army of urban agriculturists is putting a green lining on all that empty inner-city landscape, filling it with gardens that can feed the hungry, create new business opportunities and enrich people's lives.

It's a great way to turn eyesores into resources, said Jeff Burdick of the Genesee County Land Bank.

"I see it as a gold mine," agreed longtime martial arts instructor Jackie King of Youth Karate-Ka Association-Harvesting Earth Educational Farm, which opened a greenhouse and mini-farm last year on a vacant Princeton Avenue lot in Genesee Township with a $100,000 grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation.

"Gardening itself is nothing new. It's just where you're doing it at," said King, who said he and wife Dora grew about $5,000 worth of produce in their first season last year, with the help of about 50 neighborhood volunteers. "This is one of the best things happening right now in an age and time when things are just not the same anymore."

Master Gardener and retiree Phil Downs (left), 61, shows a plant to LaVonna Huddleston of Flint while working on the vegetable garden he designed on a vacant lot controlled by the Genesee County Land Bank last year at the corner of Chestnut Street and Home Avenue in north Flint. Downs started the gardens in the spring of 2007 after reading about high rates of poverty in the city, hoping to teach the community how to grow their own vegetables instead of buying them at higher prices in grocery stores.