There are so many blossoming urban agriculture projects all around the country. One of the foremost cities to incorporate urban farming is Detroit. This city has seen more than it's fair share of hard times through the rise and fall of the automobile industry and is literally growing and healing from the ground up. The multiple projects happening there are very inspiring to me and something I hope to incorporate at Seattle Farm School. One day I would love to take over an older and no longer needed school building and the surrounding grounds and recreate it as an urban farm and fruit orchard. A local source for garden-based education for our school children, a place they can come on field-trips, throughout the summer and on weekends. Our gardens will help kids and adults learn how to grow their own food, how to harvest and cook delicious meals from fresh produce, how to save seeds and grow them in their own backyards. We will grow an abundance of food for the local food bank, restaurants, and residents.
The school will also be a permanent home for all kinds of local crafters and artists with individual classrooms dedicated to subjects like yarn arts; knitting, crochet, tatting, yarn dyeing and spinning, a paper-crafting classroom, including letterpress and screen-printing, a metalsmiths shop for crafting out of iron and other metals, classrooms dedicated to sewing and quilting, and the kitchen will be taken over by food preservation classes - canning, dehydrating, fermenting, cooking, and a chef apprenticeship program. Our school will always include all sorts of crafts for kids and adults alike to explore, learn and master, and someday a gift shop for these local artists to share and sell their products. Ahh!! These dreams are huge and so exciting! They keep me up at night!
Today, however, I want to share a few urban agriculture projects that are changing the landscape of the Detroit community!
They plant trees all around the city, provide school-age children garden-based curriculum and nutritional education, offer apprenticeships and job opportunities on their urban farms and distribute food to low-income families year round that they grow on their farmland, right in the middle of the city. They turn vacant lots into community gardens and help nearby residents learn how to grow, harvest and cook their own fresh food. They are also researching the ability of trees to remove toxins from contaminated soils where industrial sites once stood. So cool!!
Food Field / Peck Produce LLC
Food Field took over an abandoned elementary school building and has turned it into a sustainable and organic urban farm including an orchard of 100+ young fruit trees, chickens & ducks, honeybees and catfish and bluegill pond (hmmm...sounds familiar!! :). They are part of a six-farm coalition that makes up City Commons CSA providing vegetables and fruit for local farmers markets. They are revitalizing the local economy through fresh food! They also just won a $10,000 grant to build a seasonal cafe in a converted shipping container that will feature fresh produce from their farm!
Keep Growing Detroit @ Plum Street Market Garden
This 1.75 acre farm owned by MGM Grand Casino is right in downtown Detroit near a major transportation hub. They employ an army of volunteers that help grow and sell transplant plant starts for gardens all over town, farmers markets, and restaurants, all while training urban gardeners in production-focused small-scale agriculture!
These projects, along with at least a half dozen more are revitalizing Detroit, making the city's gardens greener, healthier and more accessible to it's residents. They totally inspire me!