By Lyndsy Gamet, Stakeholder and Network Partners Manager at Elder Law of Michigan
Urban farming, also known as urban agriculture, has been around for centuries. It is simply growing, processing, and distributing food in urban areas. The practice of urban farming faces many challenges in modern times, including lack of space, lack of knowledge and interest, and laws that prohibit types of urban farming in some places. In the last 10 to 20 years, Michigan, and Detroit, in particular, has experienced a resurgence of urban farming.
The benefits of urban farming are broad, leading to anti-hunger activities, nutrition, education, healing, partnerships, unification, understanding, etc. On the most basic level, urban farming helps a community access food. Urban farms can educate a community that may not have had an opportunity to learn about growing produce and agriculture. The same community can be introduced to new foods when neighbors share recipes and preservation techniques. Some communities have formal classes, which teach basic agricultural, and food preparation and preservation skills. Often these classes are subsidized so they are low-cost, or free to participants.
Urban farming helps a community rely on itself, which keeps food costs down and produce fresh. Urban farming removes transportation costs, the costs of processing, marketing, and labeling. Urban farming can include cooperatives (pooled resources to offer goods), or garden sharing (shared plots of land are available to individuals to grow their own produce).
Additionally, urban farming can include community-supported agriculture (CSA), where a share of produce and payment for that share are agreed. A CSA share is typically a box of produce issued weekly to the consumer.
A community that is able to rely on itself for food through urban farming, is more resilient and impacted less by outside forces, such as grocery stores closing or increases in prices.
Learn more about Urban Farming in Michigan by contacting your local government. Some exciting programs include Ingham County Food Bank Garden Project, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative out of Detroit, and in Grand Rapids there is Urban Roots, just to name a few.
Lyndsy Gamet is a MiCAFE Stakeholder and Network Partners Manager at Elder Law of Michigan. She has been a member of the Elder Law team since August 2013. As a Stakeholder and Network Partners Manager, Lyndsy provides outreach, training, recruitment, and education to our Community Partners.