Urban farming is on the rise – and it makes sense! Producing food closer to where people live and work reduces transportation costs and the environmental impact of that journey from farm to table. It’s estimated that urban farming can provide 15 billion kilowatt hours of annual energy savings worldwide as well as prevent 57 billion cubic meters of storm water runoff. Produce is being cultivated on vacant land, rooftops, and any other unused space. As a result, urban communities across Michigan are beginning to reap the benefits.
Urban farming is starting to take a foothold in a place like Detroit, a city where 27-40 square miles remains vacant. In fact, today there is an estimated 1,500 urban gardens and farms in the city. We’ve listed a few organizations that are a part of Detroit’s urban farming movement as well as some other notable farms and gardens in cities like Lansing and Grand Rapids.
Keep Growing Detroit is possibly one of the largest supporters of the urban farming movement in Detroit. The organization says they “provides high quality seeds and sustainability to 1,400 family, community, school, and market gardens across the city”. Beyond that the group provides educational sessions to local gardens and community centers on the importance of local farming and teach farmers better growing practices.
This non-profit organization is aiming to give Detroit residents access to fresh, organic produce. Founded in 2015, the group has created two programs, the Residential Garden and the Community Garden program.
This organization is a nonprofit that “seeks to engage members of the Michigan community in sustainable agriculture.” This group is working hard to turn a three-acre area in Detroit’s North End into a hub of urban agriculture.
Earthworks is a program set up through Capuchin Soup Kitchen. This farm community has three gardens centered in Detroit to provide low-income families and individuals with healthy, nutritious foods.
This small farm sells to local stores such as Eastern Market, Corktown Market, Farmers’ Hand, and other restaurants close to its location! The farm started in 2007 and specializes in growing salad mixes and fresh herbs.
The Lansing Urban Farm Project promotes community building programs through an urban farming project called Urbandale Farm. Urbandale has sustainable farms on six city lots and grows all its produce organically. From June through December you can catch LUFP selling their produce at the Allen Street Farmer’s Market.
In 2015, Urban Roots began building their garden in the Madison neighborhood of Grand Rapids. The group has a mobile classroom which makes it possible to provide education and support to help others cultivate gardens in their own neighborhoods. The organization is closing its community market for remodeling but will still be selling produce every Wednesday from 12 pm-7 pm. They expect to be fully operational in late August.
New City Urban Farm was launched by its parent company New City Neighbors in 2012. Not only does the organization provide fresh produce to the area, but it also has the goal of providing high school kids with job and life experience. Every summer, New City Urban Farm hires 10-12 students who learn agricultural skills by growing and caring for fruits and vegetables.
Photo Credit: Caroline Attwood