Motown to Growtown: Detroit’s Urban Farmers (First screened in 2012, and a 2019 update)

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Residents of the US city of Detroit are now producing organic food locally, reducing the environmental footprint of their food by cutting down on carbon emissions from transport and on chemical inputs. They are also helping revive communities as new green spaces and farmer’s markets crop up, providing neighbourhoods with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Plots of land range from backyards, to seven-acre (2.8 hectares) community farms, to plans for large-scale commercial farms.

70-year-old Edith Floyd, an urban farming veteran, has expanded her farm from 9 lots to 32 and has added a large hoop house, where she can grow fruits and vegetables year-round. “We have broccoli, collards, green peppers and celery,” she explains.

A few miles away, Mark Covington and his mother have also grown their farm. “I want to say we only had eight lots and now we have 24 that we either keep cut or we grow something on,” Covington says.

He now keeps bees, which he says has tripled food production, and he has a host of new farm animals.

Both farmers have their communities in mind; Floyd contributes to a food bank, and people who have court-ordered volunteer hours can fulfil them on her farm instead of paying a fine or going to prison.

Covington has purchased a nearby house for a community education centre, and also provides fresh food to the area. “This is an asset to the city. Not just the neighbourhood but the city,” he says.

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