An empty, garbage-strewn lot in the city is an eyesore. Or it can be an opportunity. The difference between the two is a matter of imagination, care, and hard work.
Creating an urban garden can transform unused, unsightly urban spaces into beautiful focal points for community food production. And in the wake of “green” awareness sweeping the nation, the reshaping of urban blight into cultivated space is gaining popularity.
Urban agriculture promotes sustainable, energy-saving food production through the use and reuse of a city’s resources. An effective soultion to a city's nutritional needs, urban farming increases the availability of high-quality food to citizens, encouraging food security and enhanced community relationships.
With so many abandoned spaces – and a dearth of grocery stores in the city limits – Detroit is seen as an opportune canvas for putting these priciples in action . But certainly not a blank canvas – as demonstrated by this year’s 12th Annual Detroit Agriculture Network Urban Garden & Farm Tour.
Last Wednesday, three bus tours and two bike tours visited an impressive array of bountiful community gardens and working urban farms in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.
The tour was organized by the Garden Resource Collaborative, a partnership between the Detroit Agriculture Network, the Greening of Detroit, Earthworks Urban Farm, Michigan State University, and over 185 community organizations throughout the city. Each year, attendance at the tour has exceeded expectations. This year was no different – the tour was sold out well in advance of the tour date, with a waiting list of onlookers hoping to grab any spot left empty by over 600 pre-registrants.
The tour began and ended at the inspiring Catherine Ferguson Academy, a Detroit Public School for girls that features a working farm with a massive garden and a large collection of farm animals.
After the tour, participants were treated to dishes prepared by local chefs highlighting fresh, local ingredients. If the exhuberance of attendants and organizers is any indication, Detroit's urban agriculture scene is poised to grow into a movement that will tranform the city into a positive example of sustainable food production for cities everywhere.