Things get tough? Doesn’t matter- Week 5 – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Things get tough? Doesn’t matter- Week 5

Congrats to me, I was able to finish Project #1 for my site at Authority Health! The project was about doing research about food insecurity as a social determinant of health and how COVID is affecting food insecurity in communities of Detroit. And although I read a lot of research journals and state/federal gov articles about food insecurity and health, I made sure to read some articles based locally. For the most part, the narrative for local Detroit, COVID 19, and food insecurity was what I expected: food accessibility, the ability to afford food, and the local food supply chain as slowed down, which increases food insecurity in Detroit, which can lead to more cases of adverse health conditions and then COVID. It was the most populated topic, the same dreary look on Detroit. However, I was able to find articles that showed the Detroit community in a more positive light. Detroit Eater’s How Detroit’s Urban Farming Community Is Coping With Coronavirus Restaurant Closures was one of them.

The article was basically talking about how COVID 19 was affecting a part of the local food supply chain- the local growers. It starts off with the struggles of the growers, saying that because of COVID 19, small Detroit growers were seeing their revenue fade because of the dine-in restaurant restrictions/closures and the temporary closures of outlets such as farmer’s markets. And it’s hard for the growers to be flexible during COVID 19. Apparently during struggling times, larger farms would be able to grow storage crops like root vegetables. However, smaller farmers usually focus on greens and other crops because they can charge more per pound, and they may lack proper refrigeration. So now they have crops the would expire quickly if they don’t sell it right away (which they can’t because of the closures) and this leads to food waste.

At this point, I was expecting reports of some of the local growers to close down. It seemed like they were losing money. But thankfully that wasn’t the case!

Many of the small growers actually changed their direction to support their communities. For example: Anita Singh, the founder of Get Down Farm, usually sells flowers through the Michigan Flower Cooperative. However, because of COVID 19, she and her partners changed gears and started to grow food at no profit to food insecure neighborhoods. And Greg Willerer, who co-owns Brother Nature Produce with his wife, started working with local growers to set up satellite farm stands in neighborhoods, so people could purchase food and not be in a highly trafficked area. He also provided compost to gardeners weekly. There’s so many other local food suppliers mentioned in the article who are helping their communities, such as Fisheye Farmers and Oakland Avenue Farm.

It was really heart warming to see the small growers provide food directly to residents even when they are breaking even at best. It really shows how there is a lot more passion than monetary gain when it comes to their work- they’re not just growing to make money, but growing to feed their community. It’s articles like this that make me realize that the local food supply system never gets enough credit for feeding their communities- instead they are seen as the more expensive food supplier compared to their bigger chain counterparts. Hopefully, because of COVID 19, there would be a bigger emphasis on funding and supporting the local food supply chain, because they are able to promote food security when the bigger chains cannot (or don’t want to).

1 thought on “Things get tough? Doesn’t matter- Week 5”

  1. Hi Leslie,
    I am glad that local farmers/gardeners who were able to extend some resources did just that. It’s reassuring to know that there are people who step aside from their own monetary purposes for the greater good. I also enjoyed reading your post, mainly because I have considered starting a garden strictly for the purposes of supporting not just my family but my neighborhood as well. I think it will help people in the community feel like they have ownership over something too.

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