Local Food Systems

Promoting Empowerment and Enrichment Resources (P.E.E.R., Inc.)

Established in 2005, Promoting Empowerment and Enrichment Resources (P.E.E.R., Inc.) works to ensure that residents of Birmingham’s South East Lake community have access to the resources they need for healthy living, learning, and work.  The nonprofit runs a seasonal farmer’s market that includes cooking demonstrations and health screening events and has a mobile market to ensure all residents can access healthy, fresh produce.  Through P.E.E.R.’s commercial kitchen space, community residents can participate in a culinary training program, and products made by the “chef-apprentices” are sold to generate revenues to help support P.E.E.R.’s work.

Magic City Agriculture Project

Founded in 2011 to foster racial, economic, and environmental justice, the Magic City Agriculture Project (MCAP) helps communities of color and cash poor communities organize community-based democratic institutions and cooperative businesses, with a focus on sustainable agribusinesses.  MCAP is credited with helping people living in the Historic Smithfield Community form Dynamite Hill–Smithfield Community Land Trust (DH-SCLT), which became the first land trust in Birmingham in June of 2016.  The nonprofit also supports a small farm in the Historic Smithfield Community, which is considered a food desert.  To help develop the next generation of community leaders and organizers, MCAP’s Birmingham Institute runs numerous educational programs on a range of social justice issues.

Jones Valley Teaching Farm

Aiming to ensure area youth can learn, create, and grow a healthy future for themselves and their community, Jones Valley Teaching Farm builds student-centered teaching farms on local school campuses.  To date, the nonprofit has created 7 such farms through which it has engaged nearly 4,650 students who, collectively, have grown roughly 380 varieties of fruits and vegetables.  To foster youth entrepreneurship and promote access to fresh products, Jones Valley Teaching Farm also helps participants develop student farmer’s markets through which they sell harvested produce and flowers.

Sweet Potato Project

The Sweet Potato Project aims to restore economic activity in North St. Louis by providing paid training opportunities for area youth while creating new ways to grow and distribute local produce.  Each summer, youth learn agricultural and entrepreneurial skills while growing sweet potatoes, which in the fall and winter months they use to bake, market, and sell sweet potato cookies.  A long-term Sweet Potato Project goal is to encourage other city stakeholders to lease or purchase vacant properties on which they can grow produce, with the option of selling their yield to the Project so that it can create more food-based products.

Urban Harvest STL

Urban Harvest STL aims to grow organic food for people living in St. Louis food deserts.  The nonprofit grows food at several urban gardens and rooftop farms, and has partnered with St. Louis MetroMarket, a “farmers market on wheels,” to ensure those in food deserts can access healthy food on a weekly basis.  Also focused on education, Urban Harvest trains interns and volunteers, and holds community events to teach people how to grow food and lead healthier lives.  In 2016, Urban Harvest grew over 3,500 pounds of organic produce valued at nearly $21,000.

City Greens Market

Launched by a group of women frustrated by the lack of accessible grocery stores selling organic, local food in Southeast St. Louis, City Greens Market is a nonprofit small grocery aiming to support local agriculture and ensure all community members can buy affordable, good food.  The Market sells all items at cost to its members, who pay an annual membership fee based on their household income or join for free in exchange for volunteering at least an hour per week.  The nonprofit also offers classes and demonstrations focused on cooking nutritious, affordable meals.

Hilltop Urban Gardens (HUG)

Founded in 2010, Hilltop Urban Gardens (HUG) partners with the community to grow healthy food and people.  With a mission to foster food sovereignty and racial and economic justice, HUG is led by and centers its work on economically disadvantaged people and people of color.  Food is distributed at its seasonal Saturday produce stand, and those taking food are asked to give back to the community in some way—which could encompass volunteering in their gardens, making quilts for children, or contributing in some other way to the neighborhood.  The nonprofit also offers a range of social and educational programs including numerous workshops and youth internships.

Making a Difference Foundation

Founded in 2003 to provide school scholarships and funding for third world humanitarian missions, Making a Difference Foundation (MADF) has grown into a direct service nonprofit focused on meeting the needs of residents within the Puget Sound region.  The nonprofit’s sanctuary garden provides a nurturing environment in which women veterans grow organic food for the community.  Food is distributed through the nonprofit’s food bank, delivered to home-bound and elderly residents, and packed in backpacks distributed to homeless clients.  In 2016, MADF provided nearly 1.6 pounds of food to over 110,700 people.  Most recently, the nonprofit launched a pilot program designed to provide safe, secure, and stable housing for high-need veterans with families.  The program provides its clients with a safe home, financial stability classes, and connections to social services.

Genesis Hope

Established in 2008 by Genesis Lutheran Church, Genesis Hope works to nurture a sustainable, local economy with community-based, urban agriculture businesses that ensure food security for all Detroit residents.  Through its Young Sprouts program, the nonprofit provides job and leadership training to area youth at its youth-operated urban farm and farmer’s market.  The farm produces about 1,000 pounds of produce a year, a third of which is distributed free to community members.

Detroit Black Community Food Security Network

The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) was established in 2006 to address food insecurity in Detroit’s black community and to organize city residents to take a leadership role in the food security movement. Aiming to promote self-reliance, food security, and justice in Detroit’s Black neighborhoods, DBCFSN focuses on influencing public policy, engaging in urban agriculture, promoting healthy eating, encouraging cooperative buying, and directing youth towards food-related careers.  The nonprofit’s seven-acre site, D-Town Farm, grows more than 30 types of fruits and vegetables, and includes a rain retention pond, solar energy station, and composting area.  To increase access to healthy, affordable food while building community ownership and creating local jobs, DBCFSN plans to create the Detroit Food Commons, which will include a cooperative grocery store, a kitchen jobs incubator, a healthy food café, and space for community events.

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative

Aiming to empower urban neighborhoods and address critical social problems, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) uses urban agriculture as a platform to promote education, sustainability, and community.  Since 2011, MUFI’s farm has grown over 50,000 pounds of produce, which is provided to area households on a “pay what you can” basis, donated to food pantries, and sold to local markets and restaurants.  The nonprofit is currently focused on a three-acre area in Detroit’s North End community, where it is working to redevelop a vacant, distressed property into a community resource center that includes a nonprofit incubator space and a community garden with 150 raised beds.