Detroit is still recovering from the collapse of the auto industry but a new hope for prosperity is growing in the heart of the metropolis. The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) was founded in 2010 and since the organization’s formation, the all-volunteer nonprofit has been promoting sustainable agriculture throughout the city. They have already grown and distributed 50,000 pounds of free produce around Detroit. Now, the MUFI is embarking on their most ambitious project to date – they are going to create an “agrihood” in the center of the once-great city.
Tyson Gresh, co-founder and President of MUFI, defines an agrihood as, “a development model that centers urban agriculture as the central catalyst to drive residential and mixed-use development.” But what does that look like in Detroit? MUFI has partnered with General Motors, Sustainable Brands, and BASF to create is a three-acre complex with a two-acre garden for vegetables, an orchard containing 200 trees, a sensory garden for the kids in the neighborhood, and a community center that will also function as the agrihood’s headquarters. The complex will be established on several vacant lots and will eventually provide free produce to the community’s 2,000 households.
Other agrihoods have been established around America but MUFI’s vision is unique. While most agrihood have been expensive and exclusive, MUFI’s agrihood is designed to incorporate the community it will be growing in and that community is not wealthy. Because of this, the MUFI aims to target the “nutritional illiteracy and food insecurity” that plagues many of the residents in Detriot’s poor neighborhoods. And the agrihood won’t just be growing vegetables, it will provide food-based education to the community as well. The community center will also serve as an incubator for sustainable businesses and hopes to establish a cafe that will service the community using the produce grown in their garden.
MUFI started construction in November, but the desire for more gardens and greenery in cities has been growing for a long time. Gresh notes, “This is part of a larger trend occurring across the country in which people are redefining what life in the urban environment looks like.” For those of us who are not going to be lucky enough to live next to MUFI’s epic garden, there are still easy ways that we can bring a little green into our city-bound lives. If your lucky enough to have a garden (or rooftop) check out these incredible garden hacks and if you’re strapped for space, try a verticle garden.
Image source: The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative