We've discussed the idea of turning vacant lots of a deserted Detroit into vibrant farms. After all, with a population that's decreased by 50 percent since the 1950's, we have to find use for all the available space. But a new documentary by Mascha Poppenk called Grown in Detroit shows how we can "wake Detroit from its coma," teach teen moms a stable trade, and bring local nourishment to a struggling community all with one program. This truly inspiring piece of film makes you want to shed a tear from happiness and fury all in the same breath. The teachers at Catherine Ferguson Academy are rolling up their sleeves and thinking out of the box to wake a resting city, while in the mean time bringing fresh organic produce and new found employment to one of the most impoverished cities in the country. The documentary Grown in Detroit shows how the students at Catherine Ferguson Academy turned a small garden on their playground into a sizeable organic plot complete with apple trees, horses, pigs, and goats. But this isn't your average school. Catherine Ferguson Academy is one of three schools left in the country where teenage mothers can bring their kids to school with them. In a country where, according to the movie, 90 percent of moms drop out of school because they get pregnant, there are far too few opportunities left for these young moms.
Students are taught to harvest, weed, clear a bed, and market the produce that they sell from the farm. See, that's the key. They're not just taught how to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, and produce honey, they are taught how to market the goods that they grow so that they can learn how to be practical farmers and make a living from it.
This is a win-win for a city that currently has more liquor stores than grocery stores. And there are even built in parenting tools. Moms learn to milk goats which in turn teaches the moms about breast feeding. These teen moms are often told that they are too young to breast feed their own children and end up buying pricey formula. Whether they breast feed or not, they become informed about the decisions that they're making.
This movie is truly worth a watch and I applaud Mascha Poppenk for turning this little film into a seriously innovative project for a part of the country that needs it most.