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Up for Adoption: Vacant Lots

Kalamazoo County Land Bank

The Kalamazoo County Land Bank says it hopes to see more of its vacant lots cared for by community members.

Participants in the Land Bank’s “Adopt A Lot” program keep the grass cut and the property looking decent so the county doesn’t have to. And in some cases, adopters do much more than basic maintenance.

Tomme Maile is with the group Trybal Revival, which is caring for a Land Bank lot on Kalamazoo’s east side.

"It’s basically a whole city block of frontage on Michigan Avenue," he says.

The property now features a variety of trees – ones that were already there plus fruit and nut trees the group planted.

"Hickory and paw paw and chestnut and so on, oak, and then in front of that there’s a small orchard with a variety of fruits. And then as we go down the slope there’s berry bushes, and towards the very front are vegetables," he says.

Margaret Miller also cultivates her lot, on Summit Street.

"I’ve always had a vegetable garden, I’ve always used somebody else’s lot just somehow around the city, and as the years have gone by my lots – my gardens – got farther and farther away, so I was actually looking for something in the neighborhood," she says.

Miller says she put up a sign telling neighbors they were free to pick the veggies.

"And they pretty much got picked – I assume they got eaten – I didn’t see them any more after that anyway," she adds.

The Land Bank owns more than 200 vacant residential lots. Currently, nineteen of them have been “adopted.”

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. She covered those topics and more in eight years of reporting for the Station, before becoming news director in 2022.