Finding Detroit’s Urban Farms and Community Gardens
Take a self-guided tour of some of metro Detroit’s fabulous food sites
Published: October 2, 2013
Special thanks to editorial interns Ashley Fagan, Larry Lehna, Tyler Martin and Yara Beydoun for their contributions. Send comments to email@example.com.
The Food Field
605 Edison St., Detroit; 313-312-7235
In the distance, a bobbing baseball cap in the field can be identified as that of Frankie Silvia, a worker on an urban farm who will likely slide the dirt-caked gloves from his hands to greet you with a handshake and a smile.
In the Boston-Edison Historic District, surrounded by many of Detroit’s historically significant homes, a tire-mark trail worn into the grassy terrain leads straight to Food Field, a local farm that provides fresh, affordable produce for the city.
Despite experiencing a robbery earlier this summer, a time when the farm lost some of its most expensive tools, it is still moving forward. Noah Link, co-owner and manager, admits that he finds value in having the field remain somewhat accessible to neighbors.
“We didn’t want to wall off the property and keep people out,” he says. “We wanted them to see what’s going on and what we’re growing — and even allow neighbors to cut across the field. We like to keep it open as a community space.”
The land is in fact open, all four acres falling easily within the field of vision. The greenhouse, fenced-off chicken coop, and little blue building can all be seen from the entrance. Ash-purple kale, hot red peppers, amber tomatoes, modest pumpkins, thick carpets of sweet potato vines and more grow within. Between the rows of greenery, the dirt paths are paved with potatoes and loudly mating crickets.
At the hen house, the crickets occasionally fall silent and a few bees drone nearby. The chickens crowd around, clucking softly as they stamp their twiggy feet into the vegetable scraps on the ground.
“It’s like a little oasis,” Silvia adds, walking away from the chickens toward the fruit trees. The trees, fruitless this time of year, are one of the ways that Food Field has grown since its establishment in 2011. According to Link, the farm has been moving in new directions since he and co-owner Alex Bryan established it. With an orchard of about 120 fruit trees, a flock of chickens and ducks, a solar-powered generator, and the beginnings of an aquaponics system, it is expanding to include more than vegetables.
“I feel like we’re actually making an impact with what we’re doing, although we still have a long way to go,” Link says. “I think a lot of people were just inspired by seeing what used to be an empty, overgrown piece of property being turned into this vibrant space, and being turned into something productive.” —Tyler Martin
Though the easiest way to score a quick tour of the farm is to drop by, it is helpful to call ahead, as tours can be problematic during busier times. Food Field also sells its produce at Eastern Market 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesdays, and the farm also offers a five-month CSA program offering the chance to buy a share in the farm and get a weekly box of produce. Food Field can be reached at 605 Edison St., Detroit; 313-312-7235; firstname.lastname@example.org; foodfielddetroit.com.
Click here for a virtual tour of the farms and gardens.
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