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A season of growing in Detroit

Kids from a local daycare center pick beans at Feedom Freedom Growers as part of its youth outreach.  WAYNE CURTIS PHOTO

Kids from a local daycare center pick beans at Feedom Freedom Growers as part of its youth outreach. WAYNE CURTIS PHOTO

By Myrtle Thompson-Curtis
Special to the Michigan Citizen

It is growing season in Detroit. The seeds have been planted and are being carefully tended. The urban growers will harvest and go to market with fresh produce and eat from its bounty.

The flower seeds that have been planted will reach for the sky as they beautify the landscape while attracting honey bees, children and butterflies. Many urban gardeners and farmers are celebrating the legality of urban farming in the city of Detroit.

Thank you to all of the hard-working advocates, farmers and professionals who worked until an ordinance was in place. As a grower, I will be feeling more secure in my plans to grow and share what I am doing, as I teach the youth in my neighborhood what it means when I say, “Grow a garden, grow a community.”

Detroit is my home, where I’ve lived all of my life; it is always in transition, from people to housing, to the city blocks and avenues. It’s a city that has experienced rebellions and has activists with long grassroots; a city that is connected to its southern roots, a city to have a garden or a farm.

There are many local farm stands with seasonal farm fresh produce readily available; so many come from miles around to shop at the Eastern Market. Detroit is my kind of town — most of the time.

The birthplace of automation and displacement, this is also the city where many display and put theory into practice through growing gardens and community, a community that knows this city belongs to us!

There is a pressing urgency here in Detroit to rise up and demand fair treatment along with demanding our human rights to pursue happiness. We advocate for food justice and security.

Everyone has a right and need for food, and justice means no disparities. Security is having control and access in the dispersal of food, which gives contradiction to what is currently our food system.

Today, many grow food out of necessity and for the sense of security that is represents. It disrupts the feeling of poverty and hopelessness. The feeling of competence and satisfaction is felt through this labor of love that consists of having access to land and seeds and the willingness to get it done.

The advocates leading the struggle for food justice equates to the awareness of the vast human factor that makes up the food system and demonstrates the positive economic impact of having access to land to expand the development of urban agriculture.

Many in this country are treated for health problems related to high consumption of food low in nutritional value but loaded with preservatives, salt, fat and sugar. We are also experiencing the struggle to keep genetically modified foods and seeds labeled and out of the food system.

As growers of an urban agriculture and food justice movement, we strive to show that the health of the residents will improve.

By re-imagining the current food system, creating a strong local economy of growers and educating youth on the benefits of eating fresh local produce, we grow as a more healthy community. We are in the midst of much work in this growing season.

Working collectively, we are able to be effective as the Detroit Food Policy Council.

We continue to affect and advocate for just ordinances and policies, the right to meet our daily needs, and to have hope for our families, neighbors and the community. We understand our responsibility to this service as a voice of the community.

The focus remains to positively affect change from food system disparity to food security in Detroit. In our personal roles as community activists and organizers, and professionals, we are creating the framework for more self-reliant communities of the future.

Food security is not about food trends, neither is it depending on a giant entity such as a food corporation.

Our current food system robs each of us in some degree of identity, dignity and community. In this growing season, we recognize the ability to feed one’s self as a basic human right and for so many, equates to stability and the pursuit of happiness.

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