Artists and Community Change
AGRICULTURE & FOOD
The AGRICULTURE & FOOD community development sector is comprised of individuals, organizations, and policymakers who are working to ensure a steady supply of and ready access to fresh and healthy food. Programs and practices ranging from neighborhood-scale community gardens, farmers markets, and commercial kitchens to regional-scale food distribution systems and rural farming economies all play a role in helping communities achieve food security: the continuous availability of adequate amounts of healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate foods that are produced using safe, humane, and ecologically sustainable methods.
OAKLAND AVENUE URBAN FARM
Oakland Avenue Urban Farm in Detroit’s North End was founded by wife-and-husband team Jerry and Billy Hebron. Though the North End was once a middle-class neighborhood known for producing Motown luminaries like Aretha Franklin, the neighborhood has in recent years struggled with the fallout from Detroit’s broader economic depression: unemployment, crime, and civic disinvestment. For the past decade, the Farm has served as both a physical and social anchor for its community.
Now, in partnership with local design studio Akoaki, cultural programmer ONE Mile Project, the City of Detroit City Planning Commission, and the Center for Community Based Enterprise, the Farm is doubling its footprint and growing its offerings with an arts-centered redevelopment strategy.
The planning team is integrating the existing garden sites into an expanded landscape that will feature an art venue, off-grid energy systems, retail markets, and housing for visiting artists. According to Anya Sirota of Akoaki, “We’re not making things valuable simply by attracting developers. We’re finding ways to leverage existing structures, to use design to broadcast existing frequencies. … Detroit Cultivator is a plan in which food production, cultural activity, and civic assets work together to reactivate a locally rooted economy.”