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The Detroit Urban Farming Initiative

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Urban Gardening in Detroit

The Urban Gardening program in Detroit is remarkable. The 2010 annual report states that 1 in 50 residents are involved in the urban gardening program. 5035 adults and 10422 youths participated this past year from Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park. And what better use is there for land is there than to feed people by providing fresh produce and also improve the appearance of the area.

The Garden Resource program is less than ten years old. During this ten year period, many experienced gardeners and farmers have passed their expertise on to younger and inexperienced farmers. The program is also supported by Michigan State University. The program includes classes in basic gardening, irrigation, pest control, fertilization and many other subjects.

The Garden Resource center provides support for gardeners at 1200 farms in the metro Detroit area. Some of the support they provide includes compost, trellises, seeds, tools and even manpower.

The initiative was founded by The Greening of Detroit, EarthWorks Urban Farm, Michigan State University Extension, and the Detroit Agriculture Network, along with others. Last year 796 gardeners attended classes taught by community members and professional farmers. Class attendance increased 56% over 2009. The classes also include cooking and food preservation classes where gardeners learned from renowned local chefs and sampled tasty dishes after each demonstration. They also offer instruction on Bee Keeping.

The program also provides field trips Ann Arbor and Dexter’s U- Pick Blueberry Farm as well as other urban gardens. At harvest time, a BBQ is held for everyone to enjoy the fruits of their labor and share with the community. The held a summer fest on Belle Isle complete with music.

There are three participation levels: family gardens, Community/School gardens, and Garden advocates who do not farm but are interested in supporting the initiative.

Earlier this month, the garden initiative met at Focus Hope Technology center to review the successes of the program and plan for next year. The event was well attended and clearly illustrated the high level of interest in this worthwhile endeavor.

If you are interested in this program, the website is WWW.Detroitagriculture.org. Or contact The Greening of Detroit at 313 237-8736.

Source: 2010 Annual Report from :The Garden Resource Program Collaborative

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