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As the Supply of Local Food Expands It’s Energizing Neighborhoods and Young People

March 25, 2009 | By Patty Cantrell
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

As the Supply of Local Food Expands…

Demand for local food is spurring a broad and diverse range of new, renewed, and expanded growing operations that are finding and building new markets. Those operations range from community gardens and smaller, subscription-based Community Supported Agriculture farms to all sizes of operations serving the growing number of farmers markets and wholesale distributors interested in local foods.

  • Michigan now has 69 CSA operations (more at www.csami.org).
  • Nationally, CSAs have grown since 1990 from at least 60 to more than 1,700 operations.
  • Though using less than one percent of Michigan farm land, certified organic products increased 166 percent from 1997 to 2005.
  • A 2006 MLUI-MSU study found that concerted efforts to grow and market more local food in Michigan could produce 1,900 jobs and $164 million in new net farm income.

…It’s Energizing Neighborhoods and Young People

Detroit’s Garden Resource Collaborative is a citywide network of some 320 backyard gardens, 160 community gardens, and 40 school gardens all working together to energize neighborhoods and support opportunities for young people to build life skills. The Collaborative provides seeds, tools, and training and unites people from all corners of the city with workshops and events.

They even have a collaborative business venture:

Every week Network gardeners young and old are at farmers markets in the city selling food they’ve grown themselves under their common “Grown in Detroit” label. They made more than $11,000 in 2008, after grossing just $800 three years ago at their start.

“More and more we’re also breaking into the retail market,” said Ashley Atkinson, director of urban agriculture with The Greening of Detroit, one of four organizations facilitating the Network. “You can go into restaurants here now and see ‘Grown in Detroit’ produce.”

Learn more at http://www.detroitagriculture.org/.

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