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  •  Detroit has urban agriculture (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smarty jones, Hardhat Democrat, RiaD

    Grew up in Eugene, Oregon, went to the UO as did my dad, my mom, my partner, my uncle, my cousins, and my best friends.  Spent probably 34 of my 40 years in the state.  There is none better, and I have lived in Alaska, Vermont, Ithaca NY, and Ann Arbor.

    Now I live in Detroit - Hamtramck actually - and there is an enormous urban agriculture movement all across Detroit (I have no idea what exists in the suburbs).  I dare say the movement here is more robust than nearly any other large urban area, certainly more so than in any other comparable industrial and poor urban area.

    Check out the Detroit Agricultural Network, Greening of Detroit, Earthworks Farm, and the Garden Resource Program.  MSU Extension is also very active.  All incredibly well run.  My partner is in a program now several years old that trains people to become urban ag organizers.  Many dozens of garden organizers have been trained and unleashed on the city.

    There are community gardens, school gardens and family gardens exploding all over the place.  Two nights ago we picked up an amazing variety of seeds for use in our home garden, the community garden down the alley on the lot of an abandoned house we are starting and for a senior center in the cultural center of Detroit where my social worker partner works.  There were dozens of folks there just in the 20 minutes or so we were - and that's just one seed pickup day for one area of the city.

    We have worked at or toured literally dozens of community gardens around the city.  There are tools available through GRP, training on soils, composting, vermicomposting, successioning, passive water capture, heat, sun/shade, harvesting, storage, and on and on.  There are garden to market programs and many folks are earning a few extra bucks pooling their extra harvest and selling cooperatively through Eastern Market that has been running since 1891 and is chock full of SE Michigan produce.

    My opinion is that this community-oriented approach is actually superior in many respects to larger operations, such as Sauvie which, as fantastic as they are, merely protect the earth and produce food :)  Detroit style urban ag actually builds community power, deepens community networks, promotes solidarity, and empowers people to seize their own futures. In many cases incredibly poor and neglected people.  This is not latte organics, this is dirt under the nails urban agriculture.  

    The city is organized into cluster groups where tools and other resources are shared within the cluster, people pitch in to help other gardeners or to start a new garden, meet for potlucks, or meet a couple time a year with people from all clusters to eat and brainstorm how to improve the program. I cannot express in words how inspiring it is to see an 80yr old African American women moving around a neighborhood garden with her walker tending onions, okra, or whatever, while young folks are weeding in the next row and small kids are running around the garden chasing each other laughing.  It is the best thing to happen in Detroit in a very long time.

    I do not want to sound all pollyannish because there are obviously huge problems that remain, including food deserts, poor eating habits, etc.  But there is truly a lot happening here.  

    I used to believe the revolution would be made on the shop floor.  Now I believe it will be made building community gardens.

    •  Great comment! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiaD

      Thanks!

      Can you do a diary on your experiences there?  Here, or at La Vida Locavore?  If you do so at the latter, I'll front-page it there.  I'm "JayinPortland" over there...

      Agree with you on everything there, and I'm originally from Newark, NJ myself.  These days, there's a lot going on in our inner cities in terms of improving our food systems and increasing access to real food where there previously was none - the problem is that we don't really have the means to spread our stories.  Except for here, on the blogs.

      I've been doing my part, and that's largely my reason for posting as much as I do here and other places.  If you have a few minutes to share your story, it would be greatly appreciated.  

      Thanks, Hugin...

      •  I will make a diary (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hardhat Democrat, RiaD

        Thanks for your diary and for your words of encouragement.  I am graduate student at UoM in the middle of prelims so it will take me a while to put something together.  I have been planning on creating a photo essay for some time and this provides additional incentive.

        Just today Rachel and I visited a community garden in Corktown, Detroit's oldest neighborhood, and the remaining parts of which, well, North Corktown at least, is just about one falling down house per block with open fields where buildings used to be, drug dealing, violence, and abundant signs of decaying Detroit.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        Visible just down the street is the Detroit's old central train station, abandoned in 1987 and a powerful visual parable of Detroit's slide from the "Paris of the West" to punching bag in popular consciousness.
        http://sitemaker.umich.edu/...
        http://cache.jalopnik.com/...

        But also in Corktown is little Hope Takes Root community garden, about 150x150 feet of community building, organizing, and food production.  Today we were inspecting the community's three bee colonies.  Unfortunately two were lost to the cold because, in order to keep the queen warm inside a ball of workers, will not even move 4 inches over in the frame to eat and they eventually starve.  But these were bees from Georgia and we are getting two new queens and workers from Ohio.  Should be hardier.  Greening Detroit has planted fruit trees which they should like.

        There are many, many, many places like this in Detroit now, poignant symbols of communities committed to transforming their lives by transforming their food systems.

        I will bookmark the link you provided and send in my photo essay when completed.

    •  i heartily second hardhat democrats request (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hardhat Democrat

      for a diary on this & heavily encourage you to post at La Vida Locavore, a ver ver cool FOOD blog run by OrangeClouds115 AKA (at La Vida Locavore) Jill Richardson.
      Please come visit the site, I think you'll enjoy it!

      Liberal/Blades 2012
      The hippies had it right all along...it's about time...the culture as a whole sent out a big, wet, hemp-covered apology.MMorford

      by RiaD on Sun Mar 22, 2009 at 06:56:27 AM PDT

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