The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) is a coalition of organizations and individuals working together to build food security in Detroit’s Black community by: 1) influencing public policy; 2) promoting urban agriculture; 3) encouraging co-operative buying; 4) promoting healthy eating habits; 5) facilitating mutual support and collective action among members; and 6) encouraging young people to pursue careers in agriculture, aquaculture, animal husbandry, bee-keeping and other food related fields.
Since our inception, we have focused our energies in three main areas: urban agriculture, policy development and co-operative buying. A brief history of our efforts in each of these areas follows.
In 2006 we acquired the short-term use of a ¼ acre plot near the 4-H Club on McClellan on Detroit’s eastside. Using the “lasagna method,” we planted vegetables and herbs, developed work schedules, and served as a sight on the Detroit Garden Tour. Unfortunately, that site was purchased by a developer, and we were not able to use it after the fall of 2006.
In June 2007 we acquired use of a ½ acre lot, on Collingwood at Cascade, on Detroit’s westside, owned by the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church. This site had previously been used as a garden site by the church, but had not been under cultivation for a few years. We named the site D-Town Farm. ; We created beds, walkways, an irrigation system, developed a team of daily crew leaders, acquired additional tools and sold produce both at the site itself and at Eastern Market. We held our First Annual Harvest Festival in September of 2007. We fully expected to plant at the site in the April of 2008, but we were notified in March that the church had plans for its own use of the site.
In June 2008, we acquired use of a two acre site in the City of Detroit’s Meyers’ Tree Nursery in Rouge Park as the long-term home for D-Town Farm. This acquisition was the result of two years of meetings and negotiations with the Detroit City Council, and the City’s Planning, General Services and Recreation Departments. We were able to get a license agreement to use the site for $1 annually for ten years. We continued to build on the template that we had developed over the previous two years for bed preparation, planting, pest management, watering, work schedules, daily crew leaders, and harvesting. We expanded the number of farmers markets that we participated in. We held our Second Annual Harvest Festival in October, 2012. Through the support of the Garden Resource Program, we installed a 12’ X 20’ hoophouse in late September. We hope to begin operation of a 36’ X 90’ high tunnel hoophouse during the 2009 growing season.