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Detroit’s Urban Growers Are Farming for Their Lives

Murals testify to the community-minded design of Mark Covington’s farm. (Jessica Leigh Hester/CityLab)

This is the first installment of a three-part series. The second will explore how urban agriculture fits in to the city’s redevelopment plans; the third dives in to putting the harvest to use.

By Jessica Leigh Hester
From The Atlantic
City Lab
Aug 29, 2016


By selling his produce at markets and to local restaurants, Willerer is able to support his family from his land. He sells about 200 pounds of salad greens each weekend at Eastern Market, one of the country’s oldest produce marts; an 8-oz. bag of his greens goes for $5. His home and farm are insurance policies against another economic tumble.

Tepfirah Rushdan, a lifelong Detroiter, traces her introduction to farming to a blackout in August 2003. That power outage washed across eight states, from the eastern seaboard to Ohio, affecting an estimated 50 million people. Rushdan remembers how grocery stores struggled to keep perishable food from turning rancid in the summer heat. Now 36, she was a young mother at the time, and was rattled by the way that an unanticipated event could scramble the daily operations of her city.

“I understood, OK, systems fail,” she says. “Whether it’s something catastrophic or something as simple as a grid system failure, what we depend on can be impacted,” she adds. “The blackout really showed me how vulnerable we are.”

Read the complete article here.