Updated: Friday, February 27, 2015
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – A new program in Calhoun County will offer community groups an opportunity to raise money by mowing and maintaining vacant lots owned by the County Land Bank.
People in the area told Newschannel 3 that they are excited about the concept of providing young people with an opportunity to get involved in beautifying these neighborhoods.
“I think it’s a win-win situation, plus you involve the young people, and that right there is a good thing,” said gardner Willa Boyd.
Boyd has lived in the Washington Heights neighborhood for 24 years. An avid gardner, she hopes providing neighborhood groups with an opportunity to earn money while mowing and maintaining vacant lots will lead to further beautification projects.
“We can do mazes out there, and all types of different paths; don’t know the beauty we can have,” she said.
Boyd’s vision is one shared by Krista Trout-Edwards, the director of the Calhoun County Land Bank.
“By engaging the neighborhood residents in this work, they’ll also have a part of that ownership in their neighborhood, and we hope it will be a catalyst for other projects and other ways to partner,” Trout-Edwards said.
The Land Bank Authority, which oversees about 400 vacant lots in Battle Creek, hopes to sign up neighborhood and youth groups and non-profits to commit to caring for 20 vacant lots every three weeks, beginning in April.
There are incentives.
“They, of course, get the stipend, it promotes their group, in a positive way, featuring their group,” Trout-Edwards said.
The stipend is $3,000 for caring for the lots during the entire mowing season.
While they hope participants will be motivated to invest that money back into the community, by creating something like a neighborhood garden, the groups that are approved for participation are allowed to spend that money as they see fit.