Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Green City Diaries: March is for scheming

Photo by Marvin Shaouni
(originally published 3/20/12 in Model D)

It’s almost growing season in Detroit.

Across the city, hundreds of farmers and gardeners who grow food in their backyard, community, market, or porch gardens are collecting seeds, turning and adding compost to their soil, and getting together to talk about what they’re planning to plant, and how, in all their varied plots.

For this month’s diary, we’ve been skimming the deep well of wisdom that exists in Detroit’s gardening and farming communities to learn more about their work. These interconnected communities have grown here for decades, and their numbers continue to multiply as more and more city dwellers come to understand and embrace the transformative power and practical value of participating in a sustainable local urban food system.

The benefits of growing one’s own food are legion. To name a few: In a country where most food travels between 1500 to 2000 miles to reach our plate, choosing to grow fruits and vegetables can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from industrial agricultural practices and long-distance transportation. Fresh produce is more nutritious, and it tastes better. And community gardening, more and more, is being understood as a powerful generator of social capital.

We talked to a small but diverse handful of gardeners and farmers to learn the reasons why they do what they do, their insights into the local resources available to support new growers, and the specific preparations they’re making for the season.