Urban Farming and the Blight Revolution
Growing up in the city of Detroit I have always noticed the social polarization of our community. Blighted homes, abandoned lots, and empty neighborhoods plagued our city since the 1967 Riots. But as a result of recent events, there has been a Blight Revolution across our city. Urban agriculture projects have been popping up all over Detroit to help shift a narrative of decline into a story of rebirth. I believe our communities can capitalize on this revolution to create solutions for many of the problems we face today.
This process begins by reinvigorating neighborhoods and transforming blight into beautiful gardens locals can take pride.. I believe creating “Food Forests” within our communities will bridge the food gap we see today. Many citizens of Detroit live in what we call a “Food Desert.” Food Deserts are areas that lack access to quality and affordable food. Creating areas where food can be grown organically will create opportunities we never thought possible before. Creating incentives for community members to maintain the gardens will be a fruitful partnership we can all agree on.
The next step involves ensuring this locally grown food reaches the people that need it most, especially our youth. When COVID-19 first closed down my school my first concern was the students that rely on school lunches to feed them. What would they eat? What would parents do during these
stressful times? “Forty-five percent, almost half, of the kids in Michigan are getting free or reduced (price) lunches in schools. Those families are depending on those two meals, from schools five days a week,” said Gerry Brisson from Gleaners Community Food Bank in a 2011 interview with CBS News (CBS News). You or someone you know has been closely affected by the closure of schools and especially the school breakfast and lunch programs. “Michigan had nearly 750,000 children eligible for free-and reduced-priced lunch for the 2019-2020 school year, according to the USDA.” (Huffman 2020).
While schools continued to feed their students even through the summer break, we need to take this opportunity to reevaluate the challenges facing our communities. We can no longer allow our neighbors to feel the disparities of minimum wage and the food security struggle it creates.
Our Food Forest can be an immediate solution to this systemic problem.
Urban farming has the potential to create pride within our communities, economic growth, and of course, dinner. We need to get back to our roots and realize the answers to our problems can be as simple as planting a seed.
“Huffman, Bryce. “USDA Launches Program to Help Feed Michigan School Students during COVID-19 Crisis.” Michigan Radio, 9 Apr. 2020, www.michiganradio.org/post/usda-launches-program-help-feed-michigan-school-students-during-covid-19-crisis.”
“CBS Detroit. (2011, February 22). Report: Many Kids Relying On School Meals. Retrieved July 16, 2020, from https://detroit.cbslocal.com/2011/02/22/report-many-kids-relying-on-school-meals/)”