Has The Motor City become the Garden City!!
I’m just back from a seven day road trip to Michigan. The highlight of my trip was the tour of Detroit’s gardens. I just happened to be there in time for theÂ 17th annual garden tour.
This has grown to be a huge event. Starting at the Eastern Market , this year’s tour was sold out when I arrived. Fortunately I was able to get a ticket from the waiting list. Just seeing theÂ Eastern MarketÂ was an experience. It is the largest public food market in the US Â with over 250 vendors every Saturday in three large “stalls”. The tour was mobbed with a lot of folks of all ages, genders and ethnicities. I was told there were over 600 in attendance. The tours were broken up into three bus routes, east, north and west and two bike routes. Two busloads of eager garden tourists toured each of the three bus routes. I took the eastern tour where we sawÂ Vedic VillageÂ ,an organic paradise, Feedom Freedom Community Garden, about four lots tucked next to the gardener’s house that has been declared a “peace zone for life”, Three Sisters, about eight lots filled with vegetables, flowers and fruit trees, and, yes, beans, corn and squash (the Native American “three sisters”) and finally Faith Farm (Food Action in the Hood), being built following permaculture principles by a aÂ local permaculturist.
Our tour guide, a young staffer at Keep Growing Detroit, was very excited by the whole reality that is gardening in Detroit. She told us that after seven years of struggle, local groups had just gotten an urban food policy approved by the City. This policy not only allowed farms in Detroit, it requires that these farms be organic! Another woman I met, Oya Makisi, who works for The Greening of Detroit, advised me that a for-profit farm that was recently approved by the City wanted to use industrial agricultural techniques but that they had to finally back down due to the new policy. This farm, calledÂ Hantz Woodlands, will grow oak and maple trees and mow grass to give the formerly abandoned lots a friendlier feel. They claim to have recently bought 200 acres from the City but plan to have up to 2,000 acres in their farm.
Another interesting operation isÂ Recovery ParkÂ started by a drug counseling agency to help create jobs for those with barriers to employment. They’ve lots of plans and lots of partners but I didn’t hear of much recent activity from them.
All in all, a lot going on. I’d encourage you to look at this trailer forÂ Grown In DetroitÂ Â And turn off the freeway for a better look the next time your driving through Detroit. You’ll get quite an eyeful.
Lafayette Green in Downtown DetroitÂ
Dinner at The Eastern Market for attendees of 17th Annual Garden Tour