According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, there are about 10 million acres of farmland in Michigan and the state is home to 52,194 farms.
As Detroit’s landscape has changed with depopulation, urban agriculture has sprung up in lots and fields across the city. Besides simply growing food, these are places to learn, teach, and spend quality time.
According to Keep Growing Detroit, there are 1,400 urban gardens and farms located in Detroit. Through those operations, more than 70 urban gardeners have the opportunity to sell fruits and vegetables they grow at local market outlets. KGD has one of the largest farms in the city, but the smaller ones are just as down to earth.
Scroll down to check out this list of ten notable urban farming operations in Detroit:
Keep Growing Detroit forms an organizational body for both budding and established urban farms and gardens in Detroit. They not only exist to push beginner gardeners to become community leaders, and food entrepreneurs to assess the needs of the community, but also to promote sustainable change in our food systems.
They cooperate and share resources with a over 1,400 urban farms and gardens, one of them being Earthworks listed here. Beyond their farm on 76 E Forest Ave. in Detroit, their produce can be found on Tuesdays and Saturdays at Eastern Market, and at charming restaurants like Gold Cash Gold and Brooklyn Street Local.
The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is a collective of optimists. They believe that challenges unique to the Detroit community (e.g., vacant land, poor diet, nutritional illiteracy, and food insecurity) present an opportunity for community-supported agriculture.
Using education, sustainability, and community as pillars for their action, this 501(c)3 nonprofit organization seeks to engage members of the Michigan community, too, in sustainable agriculture—while simultaneously reducing socioeconomic disparity. Visit their project at 7432 Brush St. Detroit.
Brother Nature is as down to earth as they come. Around for 10 years now, it is a special farm that likes to push their own limits each season. This year, they are specializing in weeds to eat! Their well-known spicy salad mix can be found at Eastern Market and the Wayne St. Market on Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. or even on the plates of several restaurants in Detroit. Visit their farm land in Corktown, Detroit.
Sarah Pappas has a passion for bringing all flowers growing in different corners of Detroit together – she mingles wildflowers found in alleyways with her own homegrown annuals, biennials, perennials, trees, shrubs – turning them into beautiful bouquets. She offers a weekly bouquet service, flower design and arrangement for shops, events (weddings, parties, photo shoots, etc.), wholesale, and a flower stand during Thursday evenings from 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
The farm is located next to their house, on the corner of West Forest & Rosa Parks (12th St.), on the edge of Woodbridge, 1764 W Forest Ave., Detroit.
There is so much going on at Spirit of Hope Farm. There is a large concentric spiral of tires (photo above) that will be filled with wildflowers soon. When we visited, a group of volunteers were present– mostly middle/high school kids supervised by adults. Some of the kids were clearing land for gardens.
There are cool sculptures made from salvaged junk–like the clothing rack covered with blue bottles. They have a chicken coop where hens lay eggs and there is a big black pig there that is a lot sweeter than it looks. They have an herb garden plot lots. See the magic for yourself at 1519 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Detroit.
Recommended as a genuine place by Sarah of Fresh Cut Flower Farm, she shared that they have awesome Afro House shows in the garden that her and her husband attended a few weeks ago. And lovely markets. 9354 Oakland St., Detroit.
“Earthworks” has two meanings: First, “Earthwork” from a military perspective is an earthen barricade to protect from an advancing attack. The concept of Earthworks is that it protects the environment and the people by showing others how to live in harmony with nature, and building relationships centered on mutual benefit.
Second, “Earthworks” reflects the work that the Earth does. In this sense, they value the Earth’s work and recognize their place as shareholders in the natural economy of energy exchange (goods and services) in this world.
Earthworks is certainly making strides toward a more peaceful, respectful and harmonious culture between Neighbor and Nature. 1264 Meldrum, Detroit.
ACRE is another sustainable urban farm helping Detroiters eat healthy, local food by providing the highest-quality rare and heirloom produce possible. (They partner with Brother Nature, too!)
Their favorites include the Cosmic Purple, a bright purple carrot with a yellow core that tastes both spicy and sweet; the Poona Kheera cucumber, a sweet, russet brown varietal from India; and the Moon and Stars watermelon, a dark green fruit covered in bright yellow stars. Visit their website for more details on this Corktown based farm.
10. Freedom Freedom
Feedom-Freedom Growers work by the line, “Grow a garden, grow a community.” With big hearts, their dream is to become socially and economically a part of what is good in the city.
They also live by a desire to work for matters and doesn’t threaten humanity’s very existence–that living in harmony with all life is more desirable than dollars. As they say, “The garden is not just a garden, it is a gathering place for meetings of minds, a place where history lessons and education about all things connected to life are shared.” 866 Manistique St., Detroit.