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Sep 9, 2013
03:43 PM

Detroit Urban Farming Initiative Boosts Healthy Eating

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative partners with Detroit's Whole Foods for 'volunteer days' to expose Detroiters of all ages to the food harvesting process

Detroit Urban Farming Initiative Boosts Healthy Eating

To fully appreciate the value of fresh produce in Detroit, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, or MUFI, says you have to get your hands dirty. The agricultural nonprofit hosts "volunteer days" at its urban farm grounds every Saturday with hopes of harvesting a new breed of produce-conscious Detroiters.

Recently, the initiative partnered with Whole Foods Market in Detroit to host a kid-centered volunteer day, offering children a lesson in farming with an emphasis on the hands-on learning approach.

"They were so excited. Weeding, harvesting, planting, watering – and the kids loved every bit of it," says Versandra Kennebrew, marketing and community relations specialist at Whole Foods. After a hard day's work, the participating children shared in a large garden salad filled with the fruits of their farming efforts.

"We were celebrating (Whole Foods Market's) National Kids Day of Service, and we could not think of a better partner than MUFI," says Kennebrew.

Teaching kids the steps involved in the farming process is all about planting the seeds of healthy eating early on, says Tyson Gersh, MUFI's co-founder and president. "Having exposure to how the food system works at a young age is critical for developing a mindful framework necessary for making informed decisions regarding personal health."

MUFI is founded on the belief that the economic state of Detroit presents a unique opportunity for an organic approach – to rebuild the city with agriculture as a platform to promote education and community.

"There is something really powerful about having a hands-on experience at a young age; being able to touch, see and taste what is otherwise an abstract concept allows kids to directly engage with the food system," says Gersh. "Urban agriculture holds great potential for creating/supporting a socially conscious, autonomous and upwardly mobile Detroit."

MUFI hosts volunteer workdays every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its urban farm grounds, located at 7432 Brush St. in Detroit.

Visit the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative www.MiUFI.org for more information about volunteer days and activities.

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