people think of Detroit, most times they know the city as the Motown
or the Motor City. A local non-profit organization is working to
change that. Their name is Urban Farming and they are planting gardens
in unused land in urban cities, rooftops, walls, in planters, malls
and sidewalk cafes. Urban Farming looks to end hunger for people
in our generation. Their work is not just benefiting Detroit, the
organization is working all across America and even in other countries
began in 2005 with three gardens and $5,000. The non-profit organization
gave away one ton of food to food banks and community members. In
the first fiscal year, it raised $20,000. Urban Farming is partnered
with many of America's biggest corporations including Home Depot,
Lowe's, Whole Foods, Warner Bros. Pictures, Trader Joe's and Starbucks,
just to name a few. In addition, Prince held a benefit concert fundraiser
for Urban Farming in 2008. The organization has received press coverage
on ABC, NBC, FOX, CNN, BBC and in The Los Angeles Times,
among many others.
was recording a CD here in Detroit, Michigan and I started to see
the vast amounts of unused land in the city and really learning
about the job loss and things like that, " said Taja Sevelle,
executive director and founder of Urban Farming. "I kind of
put two and two together and said, why don't we plant on this land?
It could be the first city to get rid of hunger. The vision has
always been global. This year, we'll be planting the equivalent
of over 1,000 gardens across the country and abroad."
12 percent of households or 35 million people experience hunger
in America, according to research presented by Urban Farming. The
non-profit organization planted about 600 gardens across the country
with 500 located within the state of Michigan. Of those, eight gardens
are in Chicago, three in England and one in Haiti. Urban Farming
encourages individuals to plant gardens in their yards and donate
a portion to food banks in their area to end hunger. Community gardens
are tended by faith-based organizations, youth groups, senior groups,
employee groups, family and friend groups and citizens.
that are starving or suffering from food insecurity are able to
come to the gardens, they don't have fences around them, and just
pick the food if they need it," Sevelle added. "That's
on the community gardens, I always stress that; not necessarily
on the urban farming green science gardens, which are located on
school campuses and things like that. We've galvanized people together,
beautify the area, we do a lot of educational things. We also teach
about entrepreneurship and money management. We say that it starts
with a garden."
has a unique partnership with Triscuit snack crackers and The
Ellen DeGeneres Show. Specially-marked boxes of Triscuit will
come with a packet of seeds and information on how to register your
farm on the urban farming website. Sevelle made an appearance on
the March 17 episode of The Ellen Show. DeGeneres started
a home garden during the show with seeds from the Triscuit box.
planting 50 gardens in 20 cities across the country," the executive
director said. "We are really excited about it because the
messaging of the home farming movement is really all about getting
back to basics, touching base with the simple joys of planting your
own food. The Triscuit cracker only has three ingredients: wheat,
oil and salt so that's a good example. She [Ellen] has a garden
on her seat and is pretty enthusiastic about getting started with
gardening. I think she's going to be doing little pieces from that
garden all summer and also talking what we're doing with the Home
Farming movement so that's pretty exciting."
organization also has eight school gardens and four edible walls
in Los Angeles, a rooftop garden in the Bronx, one in Harlem, and
one in the Chinatown district of New York, among many others across
the country. Urban Farming started over 28 gardens in St. Louis,
five gardens in Minneapolis/St. Paul, three gardens in Newark, one
in Norton on Trees, England and one garden in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Many other gardens are in the planning stages across the world.
is hosting its garden planting season kickoff on Saturday, May 8
at 10:30 a.m. Everyone is invited to help clean-up and plant the
community garden at Gladstone and Linwood streets in Detroit. Free
refreshments are being offered while they last. One week later,
the organization will host another garden planting event at its
second largest garden at Knodell and Erwin streets in Detroit. That
event is scheduled for Saturday, May 15 at 10:00 a.m.
here for more information on the Urban Farming movement. For
more info on the partnership with Triscuit, click