Urban farming in Michigan

One of the things I'm most looking forward to when I get a house will be tending to my own garden. As in previous recessions and depressions, urban gardening has become quite popular. There's been a lot of talk here in Michigan about using Detroit's vast wastelands as urban agriculture spaces. People are starting their own gardens. My favorite one is the Georgia Street Gardens, which have been featured on the cool Detroit blog Sweet Juniper, Time and the Detroit News. It's a great story and when I get a minute, I want to go visit and see how they're doing. But there are also other gardening opportunities sprouting elsewhere, too. Check out these resources that can help you get involved or get started:

Earthworks Urban Farm
1264 Meldrum, Detroit, has many volunteer opportunities. Call (313) 579-2100, Ext. 204, or contact them via e-mail at earthworks@cskdetroit.org.

Detroit Garden Resource Program
They provide classes, and individuals can become members to receive plants, seeds and compost. For more information, call The Greening of Detroit at (313) 237-8736 or visit www.detroitagriculture.org.

The Greening of Detroit
While focusing on planting trees and creating green space in Detroit, the group also needs volunteers and provides other resources to gardeners. For more information, call (313) 237-8736 or e-mail the group at info@greeningofdetroit.com.

Michigan State University Extension
MSU can help with everything from analyzing your soil to hosting classes on how to preserve produce. They can be reached at (517) 355-2308 or at (888) 678-3464.

How to start a city garden:

  • Find a parcel of land. If privately owned, find the owner and get permission. If city- or county-owned, contact Detroit or Wayne County about purchasing the land. Although some people start gardens without permission, the strongest community gardens are those established through legal means.
  • Get a water source. Ask a neighbor; have the city install a water source and meter -- a cost is involved; haul water yourself; or set up a rain barrel.
  • Get good soil. The MSU extension can help with soil testing. Or because of contamination fears, bring in new dirt and create a raised bed for planting.
  • Start planting. Seeds are cheap and readily available. Plants, though more expensive, can also be purchased at local farmers' markets.
Source: Detroit Agriculture Network


Symo said...

You continue to intrigue!

A friend of mine moved onto a rental property that used to be a farm, and he reclaimed an acre to grow on... he's a little over-ambitious. But, I'll go help him out on weekends, weeding, planting, harvesting. Working the soil is good for the soul, and good for the body. The rewards of home-grown vegetables are more than just saving money, it's such a good feeling deep down. Even just one tomato plant on a sunny porch is worth the effort, so get some dirt and get farming!

Carlie said...

Have you checked out this book? Little House on a Small Planet: Simple Homes, Cozy Retreats, and Energy Efficient Possibilities

The scope is broader, but there is a section about urban gardens in Detroit and their importance due to grocery store closings. It also features Juanita Newton, a long-time Duffield library patron, so that's pretty cool.

I'm just racking up the famous people I know.