Detroit’s farming and culture scene continues to grow. Thanks to $500,000 in funding from ArtPlace America, the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm over the next two years is going to transform in what organizers are naming America’s first “Agri-Cultural” urban landscape.

The project will start in January of 2017 and when they’re done, the plan is to have a five acre landscape combining “art, architecture, sustainable ecologies, and new market practices while exploring methods for equitable, art-centered redevelopment.”

The farm has been in the area for more than a decade.

The Farm’s “Agri-cultural” project brings together Detroit-based architecture and design studio, Akoaki; cultural programmer ONE Mile Project; the City of Detroit City Planning Commission; and the Center for Community Based Enterprise.

Working together with the farm, these groups will explore ways to bring existing buildings back to life with inspired locally rooted programming. They’ll also collaborate to create attractive public spaces and functional infrastructures to move the site off the electrical grid, and encourage worker ownership.

According to the farm, these groups together will:

  • Convert a vacant house into a convivial community dining hall and hostel accommodating visiting artists, agriculture specialists, and chefs.
  • Create an Art Farm House, an exhibition space and mini art school for children and adults set in a neo-rural landscape.
  • Design and fabricate irrigation infrastructure that serves as an urban marker and deploy energy-efficient systems.
  • “North End Superette,” a farm-fresh convenience store and retail space for the farm’s products.
  • Host a series of culinary happenings and develop arts programming with residents by providing neighbors with space for creative experimentation.

“The Oakland Avenue Urban Farm is a place where we’re not only growing food, but we’re cultivating youth, art and music,” says Jerry Hebron, the Farm’s Executive Director. “We host many performances where diverse groups of people come together; we offer a range of workshops and activities. All of this is about cultivating community. The Farm has become about so much more than fruits and vegetables.”

Other recent development news in the North End included word of a miniature golf course and an expansion of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative. Urban farms aren’t a new thing in Detroit. Check out a roundup of 10 making change in the city.

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