It's Friday, and in my books, that means it's time to feel good. Let's set aside the doom-and-gloom stories for a moment and focus on some good news!
I have to admit, writing a Friday Feel Good News post about Detroit isn't an obvious choice. With a ghost-town feel and numerous semi-deserted neighbourhoods after businesses disappeared and people moved away, Detroit doesn't seem like a place where anybody feels good. Not until you look a little closer and notice that city residents have overcome their feelings of powerlessness to take back control of their food system and rebuild their communities. After all, what brings people together better than food?
The city is home to a farm (D-Town Farm) that is about to double in size from two to four acres, a two-year-old Food Policy Council that is holding its first conference this week, and a farmers' market (Eastern Market) that features "Grown in Detroit" vegetables. In areas where abandoned houses have burned down or fallen apart, the city has removed the wreckage and allowed members of the public to adopt these vacant lots for free. What's being done with them? They're being turned into community gardens and orchards that not only produce food, but train the public - especially youth - in farming skills.
Less traditional forms of urban agriculture are popping up, too: there are plans for an indoor tilapia and shrimp farm... though I guess that makes it urban aquaculture, I guess? A new fruit and vegetable store (Peaches and Greens) is located in a neighbourhood with 23 liquor stores! Additionally, the people who run the store sell produce to local residents from a truck that covers a two-mile radius every day. It's like an ice cream truck that you would encourage your kids to shop at as often as possible!
Every time I hear about people growing food in the heart of Detroit, I get excited. Granted, I'm upset that so much good had to come from so much bad, but it's amazing to see how resilient people can be when they get together around food, the one thing we all have in common regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and country of origin. Food unites, empowers, and nourishes us, and there is no better proof of that than in Detroit.
For more details on what's growing in Detroit, read Mark Bittman's opinion piece. Happy Friday!