Caption: GROWN IN DETROIT GROWER, DETRA IVERSON OF LOVE N LABOR BOTANICALS FARM
It begins with the growers
When her herbs and vegetables are at their best, you can find Grown in Detroit (GID) grower, Detra Iverson of Love N Labor Botanicals Farm, dropping them off to Keep Growing Detroit (KGD) Farm. Her produce along with several other GID growers can be found in orders through three different markets.
Though, each week, it’s always more than just a quick visit to the farm for Iverson. There is inherent community building that happens when the growers gather. She notes, “the more you partner with other growers the more you can grow that knowledge of how to better farm, and you get more ideas on how to add that produce to your diet.”
Originating in 2006, the GID program is an extension of Keep Growing Detroit’s Garden Resource Program (GRP). The GRP provides access to high quality seeds and locally grown transplants to gardens in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park throughout the entire growing season. GID is the next step for growers who want to take an entrepreneurial approach to their farming and gardening. GID growers adhere to growing all of their produce through sustainable practices, and participate in workdays and volunteer shifts at market. Through GID, at no cost to the grower, they have access to sell their produce through the Online Farm Store, CSA or community supported agriculture, and at the GID farmstand at Eastern Market. The grower also receives 100% of the profit from any fruits, vegetables, herbs, transplants, or honey that they offer up to market.
GID is a place where hundreds of growers have honed their farming, gardening, and entrepreneurial craft. More importantly, it fosters long-term relationships that are foundational to growers’ business models. For example, in 2012, former GID growers grew the lessons they learned within the program to cultivate City Commons CSA, a formalized multi-farm Cooperative in Detroit.
Another inherent value of GID is to promote racial equity within the food system. This year, 17 of the 26 active GID growers are Black and Brown farmers. In total, these growers account for 65% of the markets’ sales. A majority of customers are Detroiters, just like the farmers, so the dollars spent and dollars earned through GID produce, then circulate within the city itself.
Caption: CURBSIDE PICK UP FOR THE ONLINE FARM STORE AT KEEP GROWING DETROIT FARM
Access to good food one box at a time
For Tracee Brooks, being a customer of the Online Farm Store is more than just a box of veggies every other week, it became a way to learn more about where her food comes from, the quality of food, and eating with the seasons, “I was a novice. I would go to the grocery store to buy vegetables, and it would just go bad,” explains Brooks. “Being a part of this made me appreciate locally grown items, understand sustainability in food, and how we need to cherish it! I’m feeding my family good and healthy food, and it also feels good to support local farmers.”
For those who like to shop ahead of time virtually, every Friday at 9a, the Online Farm Store is stocked with the latest and greatest from GID farms and gardens. Customers are able to build their own customized box of produce until Tuesdays at 12p. On Thursdays from 4p-6p, customers enjoy a contactless pick up of their order right at KGD Farm, located in the historic Eastern Market district. For those who want to shop in person, customers can find the produce at the Grown in Detroit farm stand on Saturdays at Eastern Market’s Shed 2.
Through GID, expanding access to good, quality food includes expanding alternative financial options. Customers are able to pay through traditional means, cash or card, but also CashApp, and EBT/SNAP benefits. An additional perk for EBT/SNAP users, is easy enrollment into Double Up Food Bucks, a program to double the amount spent on produce and food-producing plants. For example, if you spend $20 on vegetables, you receive $20 in Double Up Food Bucks to be used at all participating locations, including the Online Farm Store.
In Brooks’s case, the ease of access to fresh, quality produce locally, was the major perk. She says, “Especially being in Detroit, you can find quality good food, but a lot of people are trapped in their areas, and may not have great access to fresh fruits and veggies. Being part of this, you can experiment and try out new things, and you know you don’t want to waste it.”
Caption: IVERSON DROPPING OFF HER LATEST HARVEST FOR THE ONLINE FARM STORE AT KEEP GROWING DETROIT FARM [sub photo for one of Tracee Brooks]
Food sovereignty for the next generation
Being able to have autonomy and independence on the agricultural systems that provide you and your family with the food that nourishes you is at the heart of food sovereignty. Whether you are a GID farmer or Online Farm Store customer, the nourishment of good food and all the values grown into it are passed onto those who will come after you.
Brooks explains, “It’s not just for me. I bring my youngest daughter with me, too, to get her involved so that it can pass onto the next generation. Hopefully this is something they realize they can pick up: the basics of what they can grow in their own yard, and getting a more hands-on feel to the food that they’re eating.”
Ultimately, growing this wisdom into Iverson’s family will become critical tools for their future. She says, “Teaching the children is a huge part of the growing process for me because I have 5 children under the age of 10. It’s to the point where they look forward to not only harvesting vegetables, but helping during the tilling and also eating the food. They understand now that food doesn’t come from a grocery store, it comes from the ground. And that gives them not only financial, but generational wealth because farming is a sustainable source of revenue.”
Learn more about Grown in Detroit and the Online Farm Store by visiting keepgrowingdetroit.org