Urban Farming is sprouting up as part of the green movement in cities all over the country, and one Michigan man, Adrian Tyus, is taking full advantage. When the local high school shut down he took it upon himself to give the community someplace positive to go. More and more, communities are seeing how growing their own food can benefit society as well as the Earth.
It started with the closing of one local high school and the knowledge that Saginaw High will be closing in the fall, that Tyus felt he had to do something for his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan. He feared pending unemployment for many of his community members and the loss the kids would suffer. But it was the food desert that Saginaw has been trapped in that really pulled him towards urban farming and urban renewal as a solution.
Saginaw is divided into two major areas, the east and the west—the west being more modern and the east being older. “On the west side there’s a Walmart, a Super Walmart, there’s two Krogers, and there’s two Meijer’s. Everything is on the west side, which is about 20 to 30 miles from the east side. People just don’t have access to fresh fruit on this side of town,” Tyus explained.
UseLess is Tyus’s sustainability company that has been sponsoring the farming initiative. The main goal of the farm was to hold workshops so people in the community could learn how to grow their own produce as well as create a farmer’s market for the community. And they tackle everything you can think of: peaches, broccoli, cucumber, beans, okra, turnips, peas, heirloom tomatoes, squash, and more. With the installation of a new irrigation system, there is also a learning opportunity there.
The garden has also been a place for the elderly of the community—including Tyus’s own grandmother—to come and share their experiences and supervise. As with many urban farming initiatives, it’s helping today’s generation to become more self-sufficient. “This is a way for people to understand that they are capable of providing for themselves.”
Tyus now has four Michigan site but isn’t stopping there, he is already planning for nationwide expansion. Denver, Texarkana, Ontario, California, Chicago, Indianapolis, and others have caught his attention for future farms and markets.
Tyus ends, “[the garden] was more about enabling the community.” UseLess is in need of volunteers, contact them here.
Urban farming and organic farming helps to keep food local. Reducing the use of pesticides and industrial fertilizers, fuel to transport crops, and the use of vacant lots rather than destroying another space all help to lessen the burden communities are putting on the earth.
Photo Credits: Flickr/David Barrie and Kathleen Kennedy