Learning to Fish: Sustainability & Food Justice Events in Detroit

Homegrown noms

1st Annual Detroit Food Summit

If you live in Detroit, then you know how difficult it is to get nutritious food at reasonable prices within the city limits.

Only one major supermarket chain still has stores within Detroit itself: two stores.

Other supermarkets do exist throughout the city. These are usually single stores or very localized chains without the buying power to set good prices or the resources to step away from cheaper, highly processed foods which contain excessive amounts of sodium, sugar, and fat. The fruit and vegetable offerings in many of these stores are sub-par and make frozen foods, snacks, or even Ramen noodles look comparatively appetizing.

Let’s not even talk about the meat.

Traveling to the suburbs to do weekly grocery shopping just isn’t possible for a large numbers of Detroiters.  I’m lucky enough to have transportation and I do head into Hazel Park in search of more nutritious food, but the trip is time-consuming and tedious.  It wastes gas that I could use to travel elsewhere and, to be honest, I really resent spending the bulk of my weekly food dollars outside of the city limits.  The Eastern Market is a great alternative when seeking fresh produce and some quality meats and other items, but the Market and its surrounding shops offer only specialty bread, rice, and other staples.

The explosion in urban gardening throughout the city makes it evident that residents crave nutritious food, and that we’re willing to invest huge amounts of time and energy into making it accessible to our families and community.

If you’d like to learn some steps you can take to ensure community food justice for yourself and your neighbors, check out the 1st Annual Detroit Food Summit.  The Summit will be held at the Eastern Market on May 19 & 20, 2011.  It is being hosted by the Detroit Food Policy Council and will cost you only $20 to attend both days.  Scholarships are available. The point of this summit is not to make money for the organizers, but to make sure that community leaders and average families have just as much access to healthy food as they do to fast food and heavily processed snacks.

The Summit features work group sessions on urban agriculture; providing low-cost, nutritious meals to schools and institutions; working with local food partners to get healthy food out to the community; and more.

You can register here, check out their Facebook page for updates, or call (313) 833-0396 for more information.


Detroit Urban Sustainability Training (DUST)

From their website:

10 Days in Detroit learning Urban Sustainability from Detroiters living it.

DUST is an intensive hands-on immersion course in urban sustainability, grass-roots community building, and community arts.

DUST brings Detroit’s premiere urban gardeners and practitioners of urban sustainability together with students from around Michigan and the United States.  It’s an intensive, 10-day workshop and is held each year at Detroit’s Spirit Farm; room and board (and nommy* meals made from fresh local ingredients) are included in the $1,000 fee.  Low income participants may request a reduced fee.

The first session will begin on June 1, 2011; other session dates are listed on their website.  Registration is now open; visit DUST for more details.

*Well, I say it’s a word.


More Event Postings to Come

Dozens of other community events will be held in Detroit this summer. I will post as many as I am able on this blog.

Over the years, I’ve found out about many of the smaller Detroit street fairs, town hall meetings, and other activities around town a day after the fact – or, worse, a day after I could have rearranged my work schedule so I could go. It is my goal this year to promote as many of these events ahead of time so those of you who are interested can make plans to attend.  I’m also hoping that by actively seeking event details to post here, I’ll be more aware of what’s going on in Detroit and will be able to go to more of them myself.

Food justice, urban gardening, arts, and community-based event organizers are welcome to contact me to request a posting at no charge.  I’ll accommodate as many requests as I can.

Detroit city only, please; no offense to our neighbors, but we’re going to keep this in-house.


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2 Comments Add yours

  1. John says:

    Is anybody worried about lead? Even if you grow in containers, you might want to have your soil checked for lead. It can come from peeling paint on any house in your neighborhood built before 1978. I use Avant Environmental, they are cheap and fast.

  2. badger1 says:

    Great tip, John, thanks!

    Lead in the soil is a huge issue in Detroit, especially since many of the empty lots where people are doing their gardening are plots where houses (probably with lead paint and pipes) used to stand.

    I think a lot of people around here use the MSU Extension Office testing resources, but Avant looks like a good option too 🙂

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