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Urban Harvest

Detroit’s latest crop of farmers reveals the depth of the city’s soil and soul

(page 4 of 4)

Malik Yakini

A Saturday visit to D-Town Farms reveals one of Detroit’s best-kept secrets—people like to roll up their sleeves and get involved.

Malik Yakini, executive director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, says the farm is a magnet for students, youth and church groups, folks who want to help plant, weed and harvest crops to support the group’s mission to address food justice and security through agriculture, policy and cooperative buying.

The farm is one of the network’s core project, which focuses on community   empowerment through farming, education, job training, retail, wholesale and distribution initiatives.

“The frame that guides the work that I do is Black community empowerment,” says Yakini, adding that the crops are sold at farmers markets, grocery stores, restaurants, and visitors to the farm.

“I am really interested in African-American communities and that we capture the monies that we spend and circulate throughout our community. Right now, most of the ways that we’re able to buy food in our community is with what I call ‘wealth extracting strategies.’ We’re always concerned with how we build wealth in our community.”

Notably, in recognition of his social justice, food equity and food security work, Yakini will be honored in New York this month as a winner of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award for exemplifying excellence and achievement within the food industry.

“I’m humbled and honored that people are recognizing our work,” he says. “And, I’m hopeful that it will open up additional opportunities.”

DARYL M. PIERSON, SUSTAINABILITY COORDINATOR AT WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY, HAS A BACKYARD GARDEN AND HELPS WITH THE COMMUNITY GARDEN AT THE UNIVERSITY.

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