By: Billy Mitchell & Tricia Wancko

When thinking of Detroit, most people have images of an industrial area focused on auto production alongside a soundtrack of Motown songs and KISS running through their heads. A lesser-known—but just as vibrant and important part of Detroit’s history—is its connection to agriculture. Since 1841, Detroit has hosted one of the nation’s largest urban farmers’ markets, Eastern Market, and the city itself currently houses hundreds of community gardens and farms. A recent addition to the Local Food Safety Collaborative (an FDA-funded initiative to provide training, education, and technical assistance to local food producers), Keep Growing Detroit is working to keep the city’s long tradition of food production alive and growing while increasing access to locally produced food for its residents.

Ashley Atkinson, the co-director at Keep Growing Detroit, is “excited to be a part of the Local Food Safety Collaborative to learn from local and national experts” and to share the organization’s “experience and best practices with the collaborative.” But they do more than just food safety work. Keep Growing Detroit operates a 1.3-acre urban farm that models and shares sustainable agriculture practices with the aim of cultivating a food sovereign city where the majority of fruits and vegetables consumed by Detroiters are grown by residents within city limits. It does this through offering educational programming that supports urban gardens and farms while also providing urban growers opportunities to market and sell their produce locally. With a meaningful focus on community, this work has a big impact—a part of which is highlighting the need for growers to know strategies to lower their food safety risks. Working with their network of residents, gardens and farms, they grew 484,250 pounds of fresh produce with and for their community and hosted 43 online educational events last year.

As the 2022 season approaches, Atkinson and Keep Growing Detroit are looking forward to assisting “market gardeners with their farm plans this winter. We’re also working on ways to help them improve their harvest practices and washing/packing infrastructure.” Want to keep up with their work? Visit Keep Growing Detroit’s website. Interested in food safety resources? Check out the Local Food Safety Collaborative website along with the Food Safety Resource Clearinghouse for a curated source of food safety guides, factsheets, templates, and more. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the latest food safety news.

Interested in food safety resources? Please visit the Local Food Safety Collaborative website along with the Food Safety Resource Clearinghouse for a curated source of food safety guides, factsheets, templates, and more. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the latest food safety news. 

This project website is supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award 1U01FD006921-01 totaling $1,000,000 with 100 percent funded by FDA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by FDA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

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