DETROIT (WWJ) – An effort has launched in Detroit to build something unique: what they’re calling “America’s First Sustainable Urban Agrihood.”

The centerpiece is a vacant three-story building near Brush Street and East Grand in Detroit. In addition, it includes a two-acre urban farm, 200-tree fruit orchard, children’s sensory garden, water harvesting cistern, and more.

“(It is) formerly an apartment complex that we purchased in the tax auction of 2011,” explained Tyson Gersh, with the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative.

“It is the physical center of our agricultural campus that we’ve been operating in Detroit’s north-end neighborhood…An urban residential development strategy. You position a working farm as the centerpiece of a large development, and we sort of see our agricultural campus as collectively that centerpiece.”

The urban farm grows more than 300 produce varieties annually, according to MUFI.  The fresh vegetables are provided for free to about 2,000 households, churches, food pantries and others within two-square miles of the farm.

If successful, the new building will offer educational, nutritional, and other programs. MUFI also has plans for a new healthy food cafe, which will be located next to the community center and will also contain a commercial kitchen.

To help complete the project, Auburn Hills-based BorgWarner is kicking in $10,000. But Gersh said they’re turning to the public and the state in hopes of raising the rest.

They have until Sunday, April 2 to raise another $40,000 to qualify for a matching grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Public Spaces Community Places program.

For project details and to donate via an online crowd-funding campaign, visit this link.


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