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15th Annual Detroit Agriculture Network Tour of urban gardens and farms

By Elizabeth White

The Detroit Agriculture Network has announced its 15th Annual Tour of urban gardens and farms in Detroit. The Aug. 1 event will highlight a diverse section of the nearly 1,400 gardens that currently participate in Detroit’s Garden Resource Program and the dedicated gardeners and farmers tending these backyard, school, community and market gardens. The efforts of these urban gardeners and farmers are transforming vacant land into food for our families, creating productive spaces in our communities and nourishing our spirit.

The tour aims to address the reality of our current food system, which is decaying before our eyes. The current system is unsustainable. With a global use of fossil fuels, soil, water and resources that is simply not viable, the current system also does not adequately reach those who need nutritious and healthy food the most. Detroiters recognize the need to rethink how we use our city’s essential assets, abundant land, strong communities and resilient residents to build a more thriving and just food system. The urban agriculture movement in the city aims to reclaim food production and provide a more sustainable option for healthy and nutritious food. The role of local small-scale farms and gardens in the movement is crucial: by strengthening the local food system, we are encouraging use of the city’s strengths, decreasing reliance on global market and environmental fluctuations and providing a more socially- and ecologically-friendly system to provide quality, fresh, nutritious food in Detroit.

With the rise in popularity of urban agriculture, advocating for just and fair policy for existing gardens is becoming increasingly important starting with the current inhibiting policies. A focus of this year’s tour will also be an opportunity to learn more about current city policies that hinder the work of gardeners and farmers and the efforts those in the Detroit City Planning Commission and Detroit Food Policy Council are making to facilitate agriculture in the city.

Last year’s sell-out tour was attended by over 500 people from across the region. To accommodate the growing number of participants, this year’s tour will feature multiple simultaneous routes. The bus tours will visit east-side, west-side and central city gardens, while the bicycle tour will weave through gardens in neighborhoods near Eastern Market. All tours will leave from Eastern Market Shed 3, located east of Russell Street between Adelaide and Division streets in Detroit. Sign-in begins at 5 p.m. and tours will leave at 6 p.m. sharp. After the tour, a reception, featuring locally-grown food and refreshments prepared by local chefs and co-hosted by The Eastern Market Corporation will provide you with a taste of Detroit’s new food system.

Registration is now open and early registration is strongly recommended. You can register by contacting Ashley Atkinson at 313.237.8736 or via e-mail at detroitagriculture@gmail.com. When registering, please give the name of each person attending the tour, a contact phone number and e-mail. The fee for the tour is a sliding scale of $1-20 to offset costs and help grow Detroit’s agricultural movement.

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