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Eight Detroit nonprofits honored for exemplary work that nourishes a better food system

Food We grow 2

Throughout metro Detroit organizations are working tirelessly to feed the hungry and improve the food system. Their work is not going unnoticed.

Eight of them are listed as top organizations in the U.S. in the third annual Good Food Org Guide for their work in food and agriculture, nutrition, health, hunger, obesity and food justice. They are among 1,000 chosen for the guide by the James Beard Foundation, Food Tank and an advisory group of more than 70 food system experts.

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The annual publication focuses on organizations that work every day in fields, kitchens, classrooms, laboratories, businesses, town halls, and Congress to create a better food system. The guide highlights organizations doing exceptional work in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. At least 10 organizations were chosen from each of the 50 states.

”Working in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation, we are proud to bring the total number of listed organizations to the 1000 mark,” says Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank. “It is a testament to the tremendous amount of growth and support we have seen in the ‘good food’ sector.”

The eight metro Detroit organizations featured are:

  • Detroit Dirt – A compost company that regenerates waste and turns forgotten parcels of land into urban farms that not only feed, but revitalize the community – creating a complete circle of life in the city. By advocating the community garden concept, it believes it can lower transportation costs.
Pashon Murray, founder of compost company Detroit Dirt, adds hay to a composting pile that has just been filled with food scraps from the GM Renaissance Center

Pashon Murray, founder of compost company Detroit Dirt, adds hay to a composting pile that has just been filled with food scraps from the GM Renaissance Center

  • Detroit Black Food Security Network – Addresses food insecurity in Detroit’s black community and organizes the community to play a more active leadership role in the local food security movement. It believes representatives of the African American population must foster food justice and food security in the city.
  • Detroit Food Justice Task Force – A collaboration of organizations led by people of color who share a vision of a food system that is effective, economically just and healthy. It endorses the Food Justice Principles, including launching a campaign for food sovereignty, rejecting the use of GMOs and other means of corporate control over food, and hosting collective community meals in an effort to combat racism.
  • Earthworks Urban Farm – Located at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, this 2.5 acre plot of land grows certified organic gardens that supply fresh food to the soup kitchen, volunteers, and a small farm stand. It hosts volunteer days four days a week, provides afterschool and in school programing the James and Grace Lee Boggs School, and offers intensive 9-month adult training in urban agriculture and food justice.
  • Forgotten Harvest – Rescues prepared and perishable food that would otherwise go to waste and delivers it free of charge to 260 emergency food providers in the metro Detroit area that serve those living in poverty, on fixed incomes and are underemployed or unemployed. It focuses its attention on children, elderly, families and the homeless. Last year it rescued more than 45.5 million pounds of food by collecting surplus food from a variety of sources such as grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, dairies, farmers, and wholesale food distributors.
Forgotten Harvest

Forgotten Harvest rescued more than 45.5 million pounds of food last year.

  • The Greening of Detroit – A nonprofit environmental organization that provides Detroit families and individuals with the skills and resources needed to grow their own food. It projects include planting trees, installing green infrastructure, providing environmental education lessons to the city’s youth, and an urban agriculture initiative that offers apprenticeship programs to youth and adults. Mobile classrooms teach farm and food skills to Detroit’s youth at afterschool programs and summer camps. The urban agriculture apprenticeship program provides advanced training to adults interested in learning all aspects of small-scale production farming.
tree planting on bentler

Greening of Detroit volunteers plant trees in Detroit neighborhoods.

  •  Keep Growing Detroit – A food system that distributes seeds and vegetable transplants to community members, offers classes on urban farming, teaches youth about agriculture, and builds a network among the city’s gardeners. The goal is to get residents to eat locally grown food.
  • Michigan Urban Farming Initiative – A 100% volunteer nonprofit based in Detroit’s North End community, which is being positioned as an epicenter of urban agriculture. The initiative promotes education, sustainability, and community to empower urban communities, solve many social problems facing Detroit, and potentially develop a broader model for redevelopment for other urban communities. The group works for increased access of locally sourced produce using organic practices and drives innovation in blue and green infrastructure by piloting cost-competitive models for blight deconstruction. It also showcases agriculture-centered mixed use development.

Two nearby organizations also made the list.

Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor partners with 150 non-profit agencies and programs to provide food assistance in the form of hot meals, nutritious snacks or emergency groceries to low-income adults, seniors and children. It provides agency partners with mostly free (70%) and low-cost food as well as capacity building grants, training to register eligible clients for federal and state benefit programs, and customized food safety training by licensed food safety professionals. In addition, its Growing Initiatives are dramatically increasing the amount of local vegetables available to its partners.

Edible Flint is a network of people and organizations interested in collaboration around healthy food access, productive reuse of vacant land and education around local food systems. It helps Flint residents grow and access healthy food.

Three other Michigan organizations were also listed.

Cherry Capital Foods in Traverse City helps farmers source and distribute their produce to local markets and educates consumers about local farm producers. It also partners with independent school districts in Michigan to provide local food in schools.

Lansing-based Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance promotes organic agriculture and the development and support of food systems that revitalize and sustain local communities. It is one of the first organizations in Michigan and the nation to actively promote these principles.

Taste the Local Difference in Traverse City provides professional and modern marketing solutions to help differentiate locally grown and made food in the communities it serves. It does this with tools and materials designed for use on the farm, at farmers’ markets, in grocery stores, schools, restaurants, and online with its searchable website and smartphone apps. Its Certified Local Food Event program provides event venues and promoters with measurement and certification of the amount of local food served at large events.

”The Good Food Org Guide continues to serve as a useful tool for individuals looking for opportunities to improve their local food system,” says Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “The Guide’s user friendly design makes it the go-to resource for identifying nearby organizations doing good work in the areas of food justice, hunger, and agriculture,”

This year’s guide includes an in-depth online interactive mapping and search tool. The website allows users to search by keyword, location, and category so they can easily find the organizations that interest them.

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