In the latest issue of Natural Home and Garden Magazine, Kelli B. Kavanaugh profiles one of Detroit's urban farms. The Spirit of Hope Urban Farm is located on the grounds of Spirit of Hope church, just two miles from downtown Detroit. It is a great example of what a small farm can do for a community, and provides plenty of lessons for those of us who grow in urban areas.
The garden's founder, Kathleen Devlin, asked the church's pastor if she could start an urban farm on the church's grounds which encompass over 12,000 square feet of growing area. He gave his blessing, and Devlin and other members of the community got to work. Today, the garden grows food for all of the volunteers, and still donates over 3,000 pounds of produce to local food banks.
In addition to providing food to local food banks, the garden works in close partnership with the church's preschool program. The kids work in the garden, and even grow miniature gardens themselves in milk crates. This oasis of green in the middle of the city provides the kids with plenty of learning opportunities, from growing and tasting new kinds of foods to interacting with the farm's resident ducks and turkey.
Smart, Frugal Gardening Ideas
Because the Spirit of Hope farm, like many other community gardens in urban areas, had to deal with the possibility that they were gardening in contaminated soil, they knew that the safest solution would be to grow in raised beds. Buying wood or stone to frame raised beds can get pricey. So they used something you can find in abundance in any city in the country: tires. Each bed is bordered by old tires, set on edge, then filled with clean soil. A bonus: according to founder Kathleen Devlin, the tires absorb heat all day, and release it at night -- keeping the crops several degrees warmer than they normally would be!
To read more about Spirit of Hope urban farm, check out the complete article on Natural Home and Garden Magazine's web site.