Urban agriculture is a high-level initiative in the city of Detroit.
In the last few years, the number of urban farms has grown (pardon the pun), offering more opportunities to feed and educate the community on the importance of healthy produce and self-sustainment.
Volunteering on a Detroit farm or community garden is a great way to connect with local Detroiters and the earth we live in.
If you have a green thumb or a simple appreciation for environmental awareness and education, check out these local Motor City charities and non-profits that have changed the definition of urban gardens.
Plant it right there: we have top recommendations on where you can start volunteering in a local garden, including locations, hours of involvement, and type of volunteer opportunities.
Earthworks Urban Farm
Located on 2.5 acres of farmland, Earthworks Urban Farm provides the community with agricultural education, including classes for Detroit gardeners, after school programing for youth, and a nine-month intensive grower-training program for adults.
Founded in 1998, the purpose of the farm was to connect and provide healthy produce for the people in the community. Today, Earthworks still strives to unify locals through volunteering on the farm and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, feeding residents and educating the community on self-sustainment through gardening.
If you like to get your hands dirty, Earthworks is your type of farm. Volunteer work includes mixing soil, flipping compost, planting and seeding, harvesting, and cultivating.
It’s easy to get involved at the farm. For more information on volunteering, check out their website for details on the type of work, attire, and soup kitchen hours.
Earthworks Urban Farm is located at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s Meldrum site at 1264 Meldrum.
Gleaners DTE Energy Garden Program
As one of the more well known community gardens in Detroit, Gleaners Food Bank (GFB) has provided food and community resources for nearly 40 years.
According to their website, Gleaners was among the first food banks in the United States and contributes 34.5 million pounds of food per year and distributes 79,000 meals each day.
The DTE Energy Farm Project is a program in which adult and youth volunteers can gather together to work and learn on the farm. All produce is donated to local food pantries.
While the DTE garden has five locations throughout Michigan, the Detroit site is on 2131 Beaufait St., just a few blocks away from Earthworks Urban Farm.
Volunteers have the opportunity to experience the outdoors while learning about the necessities of organic produce and self-sustainment through the program. Everyone from individuals to corporations can sign up to volunteer.
Applications for volunteering can be found on their website.
Talk about “urban” garden: Lafayette Greens is located in the heart of downtown Detroit on a half-acre lot where the Lafayette Building once stood at 132 W Lafayette Blvd.
Lafayette Greens is a product of The Greening of Detroit, an organization that educates beginner gardeners to become engaged with their local communities. The company seeks to promote sustainable change in Detroit along with fresh food consumption in the city.
Combining education and community events, the garden hosts free evening classes on belly dancing, Yoga, Tai Chi, and of course, gardening.
Functioning as an organic vegetable and fruit garden, Lafayette Greens hopes to redefine the idea of urban agriculture by imagining new ways to enhance the experience.
The location definitely helps their cause: with the garden in the middle of the city, and huge skyscrapers as backdrops, it provides awareness for a healthy lifestyle and community engagement to all passersby.
Additionally, the easily accessible location provides an opportunity for walk-in volunteering. Just sign in at the entrance and give a hand in pulling weeds or watering plants in the 35 garden beds.
For more information on how you can get involved, check out the blog on their website.
Plum Street Market Garden
Located on 2202 Third Street, Plum Street Market Garden functions like Lafayette Greens as walk-in volunteering is not only offered, it’s encouraged!
This 1.75-acre site seeks to provide resources for cultivation, education and engagement within the area.
Plum Street is an installment of Keep Growing Detroit, providing fresh produce to areas of need. Volunteers will have the pleasure of tending to fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers in the garden.
For hours of volunteering, check out the Plum Street Garden section on the Keep Growing Detroit Website.
In the West Village neighborhood grows a garden full of local and organic produce used for community nurturing, gathering, and education.
Located at 1815 Van Dyke, Fisheye caters everything from local farmers’ markets and area restaurants to farming and agriculture education events.
According to their website, their mission statement is based on a fisheye lens, “A wide inclusive view of urban farming.” This means that the farm functions on more than just growing food, but providing a place for people to gather together and cater to their community.
A unique aspect of Fisheye Farms is the creative events it offers to both locals and visitors. This month, on July 31 at 7:00 p.m., the farm will offer its first pop-up dinner at the West Village location on Van Dyke. There are still tickets left for purchase at $75 per person. If you’d like to reserve your spot, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The menu is a tapas-style, five-course feast with Spanish wine parings.
For more information on Fisheye events, check out their page for dates, times and locations of their next farm fest.
You don’t have to be a master horticulturist or expert agriculturalist to volunteer at these farms and community gardens. So, grab your sun hat, gloves, and can-do attitude!
Each site will provide the education and training you need to participate.
Whether you’re looking for a drop-in session at Lafayette Greens and Plumb Street or extensive training from experienced farmers at Earthworks, you’ll find the same great purpose of self-sustainment and community bonding at any of these great locations.
Do you know a local community garden or farm that you’d like to acknowledge? Let us know where you like to volunteer your green thumb!