Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative is a group of 40 organizations developing ways to ensure that everyone in Detroit – especially the most vulnerable children – has access to affordable, healthy locally grown food and opportunities to be physically active.

Detroit Eats: Highland Park Farmers’ Market

This is the second market profile of Detroit Eats! photo essay project.

The Highland Park Farmers’ Market is located in a parking lot next to a strip mall and the first Model T production plant. This interesting limbo between past and present is seen in multi-generational crowd at the market as well. A DJ blasts popular music and most of the tents are manned by high school youth who are a part of the SAFETY program (Successful Alliance For Educated Talented Youth). The young volunteers have an impressive amount of patience and respect with picky customers, and answer their questions the best they can. Meanwhile, one woman is so elderly that she requests a chair to sit in as she picks out which greens she wants.

“I’m about as country as a couch on the porch” -- Mississippi

One of the tents not operated by youth is dedicated solely to Mississippi’s Zucchini Bread, “The Bread That Talks to Your Heart.” I introduce myself to the baker, and ask what he name is. “Miss Issippi.” Pardon? “Mississippi.” Later I find out her name is actually Ms. Harvey, but I agree to call her Mississippi because the sample of bread that she gave me was so tasty.

The Highland Park Farmers’ Market is still relatively new, established in 2012.  However, it is very eager to get word out to the community and provide healthy food amongst other things. In early August, the Market handed out backpacks and school supplies for students to celebrate Neighborhoods Day. They are dedicated to nurturing literacy in the classroom and health literacy for youth as well.  We’re excited to see how the Highland Park Farmers’ Market continues to grow and spread these important messages within its city!

“It’s cool you get to help out the community, get the produce that doesn’t get out there.”

The Highland Park Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 10am -2pm at 53 East Manchester (1 block east of Woodward). The market is one of 14 Detroit Community Markets supported by the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative.

Detroit Eats: Hamtramck Farmers’ Market

This is the first market profile of Detroit Eats! photo essay project.

In the backyard of the plum colored house at 2360 Yemans, a young boy scales down the trunk of a very climable looking tree. When he lands on the ground, he is surrounded by several tables and talkative neighbors, the average weekly makeup of the Hamtramck Farmers’ Market. His name is Ivan, he is nine years-old, and a regular at the Hamtramck Farmers’ Market.

Rain or shine, Ivan is a steadfast one-man welcome committee at the Market

There is a sign on the garage that reads Never Mind the Dog. Beware of the Owner. Yet, as I enter, I am greeted with many “hellos” and warm smiles making me feel like I’m arriving at a family get-together, except I do not actually know anyone there.

“Ice cream! Ice cream!” yells a little girl, no older than three, selling imaginary ice cream cones out of her pop up tent. Her ability to sell tasty treats must have rubbed off from her only customer and mother, Angel. Angel operates the Tiny Acres booth, and lives in the house that hosts this weekly market. Tiny Acres is an urban farm consisting of three lots of raised beds located in Hamtramck. Its inventory proudly boasts organic and non-GMO produce, delicious jams and jellies, granola, and even balms and sunblock.

“People ask me who Jane is. I’m a Jane, you’re a Jane. Any of you is probably a Jane.” – Kaitlyn, co-founder of Jane of All Trades

Angel introduces me to the other vendors including Pam, owner of Pamelot Soap Co, a pink-haired woman selling all natural perfumes with a necklace that says FIERCE, and Kaitlyn and Chris-Teena the owners of Jane of All Trades, a mobile coffee stand. “There’s supposed to be some punk rock kid,” she explains, motioning to the empty table, “but he’s a punk rock kid so he flaked.”

Regardless of the missing vendor, the market still has an diverse array of products from Pamelot’s goat’s milk soaps to Jane of All Trades’ Whipped Up Greek Iced Coffee (I’m not sure what makes it Greek, you’ll have to try it for yourself!). Ivan operates the welcome table with a charmingly business-like attitude. When asked what his favorite part of the market was, he shrugged and said “Just selling to people, and giving them products of food.” Earlier, he offered me a sample of some local bread, thoroughly briefing me on the pros and cons of its flavor.

“I just want to broom.” – Fiola, Angel’s daughter and Tiny Acre’s tiniest helper

With such welcoming people, and the fact that it is held in the backyard of someone’s home, the Hamtramck Farmers’ Market is as “local” as local food can get. The market has created a space for neighbors to hang out, eat, and laugh together on a weekly basis. By opening her backyard to the neighborhood, Angel and her family exemplify the ability for local food to foster community, and prove the Beware of Owner sign to be completely false.

The Hamtramck Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 2-6 pm at 2360 Yemans. The market is one of 14 Detroit Community Markets supported by the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative.

Angel, owner of Tiny Acres Farm

For the first time, the Hamtramck Market is proud to accept SNAP/Bridge Cards this year for eligible items.

Introducing Detroit Eats!

They say that a photo says a thousand words, but there’s so much more to say when it comes to where Detroiters are buying their food.

Detroit Eats! is a new photography project that will be hosted here on the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative website. It will profile the many unique options of where to buy fresh, healthy produce within the city – and it beautifully harmonizes with DFFC’s mission to develop ways to ensure that everyone in Detroit has access to affordable, locally grown food.

The project will focus on the Detroit Community Markets, a coalition of 14 different markets located in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park. They range from urban farm stands, to mobile produce trucks, to quaint backyard markets. Detroit Eats! will be exploring a wide range of these Community Markets, and the many different people who shop there, highlighting what makes each market so special.

Farmers’ markets are wonderful places to buy nutritious food, as well as support local growers. Many of them accept forms of food assistance, making them accessible to many levels of income as well. Benefits abound to shopping at Community Markets, but we will let the photos speak for themselves.

Stay tuned for the first market profile coming soon!

Fresh Food Share Continues to Supply Thousands with Low-Cost Produce

Gleaners Community Food Bank’s Fresh Food Share program, supported by the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative, delivers boxes of fresh produce at an affordable price to community sites for families living in low-income neighborhoods where healthy, unprocessed food is not easy to come by.

The program supplies low-cost boxes (“shares”) of fresh food to around 250 households each month.

Fresh Food Share members pre-order a box of produce at their local community sites and later pick it up. The fresh food is bought at wholesale prices from local farmers, including Detroit farmers. The boxes are available for monthly pickup at multiple neighborhood locations around the city; during any given month, Fresh Food Share delivers to approximately 24 sites. There are currently 36 sites, but not every site orders monthly, particularly schools who may be closed during the summer and holiday months.

Fresh Food Share is a community food program that provides an easy, affordable way for Detroit residents to get fresh food, increase their nutritional knowledge, and support local farmers. It also strives to achieve a measure of financial sustainability in its design: the cost of the shares cycles back in to support the logistics of running the program.

Another perk, Fresh Food Share gives Double Up Food Bucks tokens when customers use their SNAP dollars to purchase their shares, and customers can use the tokens to pay for the part of their box that is Michigan grown. This comprises almost all of the box during the growing season.

American Indian Health and Family Services, Carver S.T.E.M. Academy, Woodbridge Community Youth Center, and Piquette Square are among the distribution sites.

American Indian Health and Family Services operates a free medical clinic for those without insurance and has a variety of health education and referral programs in southwest Detroit; offering Fresh Food Share to the people it serves is fitting.

“We place an emphasis on healthy eating in all our programs and have a lot of clients who don’t have access to fresh produce, either because they are living in areas that are food deserts, or they don’t have good transportation,” says Nina Eusani, maternal and child nurse at AIHFS.

“Having fresh produce available at wholesale prices is great for many of our clients who are low-income and need access to affordable produce.”

AIHFS and other site partners appreciate Fresh Food Share because it helps their clients while not requiring a big investment of time.

“It’s a great opportunity for community members, and it doesn’t take a huge amount of work on our end,” says Nina. “It’s so great to have someone create that infrastructure so that we don’t have to.”

For more information about Fresh Food Share click here.

Food & Community Gathering, Detroit Style

The bi-annual Food & Community Gathering, held May 20-22, was meaningful for a number of reasons, but for us Detroiters, it was extra special because it was hosted here in the “D,” our hometown, at the Marriott at the Renaissance Center. Amongst the 600 attendees from around the world, Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative representation was strong.

The three-day event, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, kicked off Detroit style with music and song – and even a rap about compost performed by iconic Detroit composter, Kadiri Sennefer of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.  Following that was Movement in Action: The Detroit Good Food Experience, a panel of current and emerging food leaders who highlighted the thriving cross-sector partnerships that are needed to move the work forward.

DFFC members presenting, leading, and attending included Betti Wiggins and Zaundra Wimberley from Detroit Public Schools Office of School Nutrition, Kathryn Savoie, Ecology Center; Dan Carmody, Fiona Ruddy and Devita Davison, Eastern Market Corporation; Ashley Atkinson and Jamii Tata, Keep Growing Detroit; Jerry Ann Hebron, Mimi Pledl and Cheryl Simon, Detroit Food Policy Council; Linda Campbell and Myra Lee of the Equitable Detroit Coalition; Meredith Freeman and Oran Hesterman, Fair Food Network; myself, as project director of DFFC, and many others.

So, why Detroit? According to Linda Jo Doctor, program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Detroit was chosen as the host city because of the extraordinary work happening here to transform the food system, along with the rich legacy of urban gardens that created a foundation for the vibrant food work happening today.

Doctor mentions progressive activities happening in Detroit – like school food work, multi-sector partnerships, networks of urban farmers, community farmers markets, and food entrepreneurs – as setting the pace.

“Having the Food & Community Gathering here in Detroit was an opportunity for many people across the country to learn more about the work happening here,” says Doctor. “The food movement in Detroit is a model for the nation.”

As Detroit served as host, Detroiters had a strong participatory presence too.

Along with leading Learning Circles (break-out sessions), Detroiters planned and hosted six off-site Knowledge-Sharing Workshops, which were held around the city at locations like Oakland Community Garden, Detroit Kitchen Connect at St. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church, Detroit Eastern Market, Drew Middle School, CHASS Center, and D-Town Farm.

The conference, with a theme “Harvesting Change,” brought together advocates, farmers, school food workers, public officials, food entrepreneurs, academics, and others from around the nation, all invested in continuing to build the Good Food Movement.

The movement works to increase access to food that is affordable, healthy, green, and fair so that children, families, and communities have the opportunity to thrive. That, along with efforts to increase physical activity and safe places to play and exercise, is the purpose of the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative.

For those reasons, we were honored and delighted to host and participate in the 2014 Food & Community Gathering. For a full recap of the three-day gathering click here.