Urban Eden: Farming in Detroit

According to the 2010 US Census, about 80 percent of the population lives in what is considered an “urban” area, meaning only approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population lives rurally.

Historically, it tends to be more difficult to find fresh fruits and veggies in metropolitan neighborhoods than in their rural counterparts. With this many individuals living in cities, how can we ensure that everyone has access to fresh produce?

Some have found an answer in urban farming.

The practice of urban agriculture has been around since the dawn of big cities, but has only recently caught fire. One of the largest networks of urban farmers in Detroit is Keep Growing Detroit (KGD).

KGD’s mission is to “promote a food sovereign city where the majority of fruits and vegetables Detroiters consume are grown by residents within the city limits.” One of the premiere ways that KGD fulfills this mission is through their Garden Resource Program, which offers gardening resources to help local citizens nourish their home gardens.

“We want people in the city of Detroit to grow where they’re at,” said Ashley Atkinson, co-director at Keep Growing Detroit. “In the Garden Resource Program, we offer everything from educational classes on strawberries, sweet potatoes and soil to tilling services and fruit distribution. What’s most important is that we listen to the needs of our community members and work together to systematically address those needs. We also need to disseminate our knowledge of sustainable growing practices to our program members, so they can learn to develop their own gardens independently.”

“Additionally, based on studies we’ve done of our gardeners, we serve about 1,400 gardens, inclusive of about 20,000 Detroiters,” Atkinson continues. “This equates to about 200 tons of fruits and vegetables produced by Detroiters and about 2.5 more daily servings of fruits and vegetables consumed by gardeners compared to non-gardeners. When you look at the numbers, KGD’s Garden Resource Program is helping those in our community improve their physical health and network with others while doing so.”

It is encouraging to know that even if you live in a big city like Detroit, there is always something you can do to take charge of your health. If you are interested in learning more about Detroit’s urban gardens, join KGD on Wednesday, August 5th at the 18th annual Detroit urban garden tour.

 

Photo Credit: Keep Growing Detroit

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