Today was another great day on #NAST2014.
We started our day at Detroit’s Eastern market, and went on a tour of the local area around the farmer’s market. We heard about and saw some of the local restoration going on in the form of a greenway and bike path. The people in this community are working tirelessly to improve their city by improving everything from access to fresh, healthy food, to green spaces where the community can come together for shopping, eating and exercising.
Following this tour, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to have a meeting with the Deputy Mayor of Detroit, Mr. Isaiah “Ike” McKinnon. We heard first-hand from this retired Police Chief and former University Professor about his love for Detroit, and how Detroiters are “fighters.” The challenges facing this city are seemingly insurmountable (un employment of around 27% at the height of the financial crisis, around 70,000 abandoned and burned houses to be torn down, a violent crime rate of 5 times the national average, a population that declined from 2 million in the 1950’s to its current 700,000, etc.), but this man, along with the team he and mayor Mike Duggan have assembled are up to the task. From their employment initiatives, “blight removal” of uninhabited buildings, and the re-turning on of broken street lights at the rate of 500 + per week, Detroit’s future looks as bright as the streets now look!
Following this insightful meeting, we learned about urban agricultural initiatives being undertaken in Detroit by groups like our host, FoodPLUS Detroit. After hearing of how these wonderful people engage their local communities to work on things like food security, resource efficiency, economic prosperity, and social justice.
Next we were off to visit one of the local farms that partner with FoodPLUS Detroit, D Town farm. D Town farm is a local urban farm that grows vegetables and greens using organic farming methods, and that uses its farm and property to encourage and teach other young, aspiring urban farmers about production and marketing opportunities.
We’re excited for more days of learning and experiences on this #NAST2014.