Detroit Debuts America’s First Urban ‘Agrihood’ Turning Vacant Lots Into Edible Farms While Feeding Thousands For Free

Several acres of a formerly vacant urban neighborhood are being farmed to provide free fruits and vegetables for 2,000 nearby residents.

When you think of Detroit, ‘sustainable‘ and ‘agriculture‘ may not be the first two words that you think of. But a new urban agrihood debuted by The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) might change your mind. The three-acre development boasts a two-acre garden, a fruit orchard with 200 trees, and a sensory garden for kids.

If you need a refresher on the definition of agrihood, MUFI describes it as an alternative neighborhood growth model. An agrihood centers around urban agriculture, and MUFI offers fresh, local produce to around 2,000 households for free.

In a statement, MUFI co-founder and president Tyson Gersh said, “Over the last four years, we’ve grown from an urban garden that provides fresh produce for our residents to a diverse, agricultural campus that has helped sustain the neighborhood, attracted new residents and area investment.” Through urban agriculture, MUFI aims to solve problems Detroit residents face such as nutritional illiteracy and food insecurity.

Now in the works at the agrihood is a 3,200 square foot Community Resource Center. Once a vacant building, the center will become a colorful headquarters and education center. As MUFI is a non-profit operated by volunteers, they’ll receive a little help to restore the building from chemistry company BASF and global community Sustainable Brands. Near the center, a health food cafe will sprout on empty land.

MUFI describes the agrihood as America’s first sustainable urban agrihood. There are other agrihoods around the United States, such as this one Inhabitat covered earlier in 2016 in Davis, California. But the California agrihood is expensive; many people couldn’t afford to live there. The Michigan agrihood is far more accessible.

MUFI isn’t stopping with the community center. They’re also working on a shipping container home, and plan to restore another vacant home to house interns. A fire-damaged house near the agrihood will be deconstructed, but the basement will be turned into a water harvesting cistern to irrigate the farm. 

+ The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative

Images via The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (1,2)

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