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Community initiatives constitute a crucial component of the transformation taking place in Detroit, which has seen its fair share of difficulties following deindustrialization. And the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) is one of them. The all-volunteer non-profit based in Detroit’s North End neighborhood is using agriculture as a platform to promote education, sustainability and community in an effort to empower urban communities, address the social problems facing Detroit and develop a broader model for redevelopment for other urban communities.
MUFI’s primary focus has been on the development of a two-square-block area in Detroit’s North End, which is being positioned as an epicenter of urban agriculture. The space is heavily themed by “adaptive reuse of the built environment,” in which it hopes to demonstrate everything from best practices for sustainable urban agriculture and effective strategies for increasing food security to cost-competitive and scalable models for blight deconstruction and innovation in blue and green infrastructure.
The non-profit recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to help convert a vacant three-story apartment complex into a 3,200-square-foot community resource center with gathering space for education programs and training opportunities, as well as two commercial kitchens and a healthy food café. MUFI’s campus currently includes a 2-acre urban garden, a 200-tree fruit orchard, a sensory garden and a water-harvesting cistern. Over the past four growing seasons, the project has provided more than 50,000 lbs. of mostly free produce to more than 2,000 local households, food pantries, churches and businesses in the area.