Engaging Youth in Neighborhood-based Urban Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2010: $2,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Manager:
Matthew McDermott
Lansing Urban Farm Project

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: cucurbits, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: ornamentals


  • Education and Training: mentoring, study circle, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, wildlife
  • Pest Management: compost extracts, mulches - killed, physical control
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Sustainable Communities: community planning, local and regional food systems, urban agriculture, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks, community development

    Proposal abstract:

    The Urbandale neighborhood lies in Lansing, Michigan's 100-year flood plain. The area is also a food desert. In 2010 the Lansing Urban Farm Project began Urbandale Farm on 1/2 acre of vacant land owned by the county land bank and plans to expand into another 1/2 acre - five contiguous vacant lots - in 2011.

    Urbandale youth have shown an interest in the farm. They also play among the brush and debris in the vacant lots. Because sustainability gains strength through shared work and place-making, it makes sense to actively engage area youth (and their families) in the design and care of these spaces.

    The proposed project invites Urbandale youth to help transform the five vacant lots into an edible and interactive landscape, one that is both playful and productive. Matthew McDermott, an agro-ecological educator and Urbandale resident, will facilitate the collaboration between neighborhood youth and the "growing" interests of Urbandale Farm. Through informal meetings and trips, McDermott will discuss the foundations of urban ecology, farming and the food system. Urbandale youth will discuss their ideas for a farm site and help to establish a place that encourages community interaction, sustains urban agriculture and land tenure, and inspires further community-building.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.