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Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Minor

The Blooming Programs of the Allen Market Place

The Allen Neighborhood Center is not only a food hub for the east side of Lansing, but a non-profit community center to provide resources for the community of the east side of Lansing. An important aspect of Allen Neighborhood Center is the impact on the community from Allen Market Place. This entails the entirety of the food hub portion of the center, cultivating many programs that Lansing faces as a part of a food desert. The most impactful ways Allen Neighborhood Center provides for the people in the area comes through the endless care they have for the community. Allen Market Place Provides a variety of programs designed to benefit the local community.

Bread Basket

This program requires that the Allen Market Place receives food donations from retail locations such as Panera and Fresh Thyme. The foods most commonly donated include produce that does not meet the stores aesthetic standards, food close to retail expiration, and baked goods that did not sell that day. All the food donated is completely safe to eat, benefiting families struggling to pay for healthy food at other outlets, while simultaneously participating in the sustainable practice of reducing food waste. Each person that comes through receives a limited amount of food items for each category, such as veggies, fruit, and baked goods.

Market Walk

This program supports a healthy lifestyle by signing up to walk laps around Hunter Park, and after 10 laps, equivalent to 5 miles, the patron receives a five-dollar eligible to spend at the Allen Farmers Market. You can walk as many laps as you would like to rack up as many food vouchers as you can. This not only promotes a small solution to food insecurity in the Lansing area, but emphasizes the linkage between health, exercise, and food. Market Walk happens three times a week, year-round. When winter comes, the Market Walk transitions to Market Moves, held in the dance studio next door.

Exchange Veggie Box

The Veggie Box is the Allen Market Place’s Community Supported Agriculture program, or CSA. This program offers a convenient way to acquire produce every week without the hassle of shopping at the grocery store. The fundamental difference between this CSA and other CSAs is that Allen Market Place sources the contents from various local farms instead of focusing exclusively on one farm. This provides support for a larger part of the Greater Lansing community and the participating small farms to not only create an income, but to spread their name to the average of 200 subscribers per season. In every box, a newsletter is provided to give information on where each item is sourced from, how to prep food, a producer spotlight, and a veggie spotlight specifically with obscure veggies. Recipes are posted to promote diverse meals and find new, fun ways to eat healthy.

Allen Farmers Market

Allen Market Place offers a weekly farmers market that runs all year. During the spring and summer, the Allen Farmers Market is hosted outside the center, and in the fall and winter seasons, it is moved inside. This creates a year-round advocacy for Lansing residents to continue to purchase fresh and local produce without having to resort to grocery stores. The farmers market holds a mission statement revolving around the idea of a sustainable food system providing access to locally grown and affordable food that will economically support Lansing farmers and artisans. Originating in 2004, Allen Farmers Market has expanded from supporting four female farmers for a 10-week season to a 52-week season supporting markets from produce, to meat, to baked goods. Along with creating an affordable place for farmers to market their food, Allen Farmers Market accepts various forms of including EBT, Double Up Food Bucks, WIC, Market Fresh coupons, hoop houses for Health vouchers, and credit/debit cards.

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Hunter Park Garden House

Hunter Park Gardenhouse includes both an indoor hoop house as well as a community garden surrounding the hoop house. This establishment was created as a movement to change the negative culture surrounding the park to a positive, community-based park for the neighborhood to continue to beautify the east side. A unique aspect of this community garden is how it relies on local volunteers to maintain productivity. Allen Neighborhood Center provides gardening workshops, giving knowledge to residents ranging from “never-have-touched-soil-before” to those with an experienced green thumb. The food grown inside the hoop house is managed by the Allen Neighborhood Center staff, while the garden outside is there for anyone to cultivate and harvest at no cost.