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Continuing to embody the path of reformation and restoration, we took a look at this dilapidated warehouse yesterday, as a place for indoor growing, using technics such as hydroponics.

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About the Blog

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Hello world!

I’m Julian Edward, a Senior college student who was so inspired by Wayne and Myrtle when they came to speak to my classroom that I decided to propose this blog for my final project in my History of Detroit class. I had the honor of sitting down and speaking with Wayne, Myrtle, Andrew, and Tyron for a little bit yesterday and it was a very enlightening experience. Each one of them is so full of energy, drive, and motivation, that one can’t help but to feed off of it.

The plan is for me to show them around the blog interface, and that hopefully in time it can become a regular part of the project, keeping people up to date on some of the garden’s involvement.

I had an impromptu interview with Wayne yesterday, with some of the others involved. And here’s how it turned out…


What got you guys started?

Wayne: Our own drive and the amount of support received. Myrtle, who was also present said that one of her motivations came about from an adverse reaction to the artificial sweetener Splenda. She stated: “he who controls the food controls everything.”

What does the garden mean to you?

Both Wayne and Myrtle agreed that the garden is a way of taking personal accountability for their own destiny, while inspiring others to do the same. They said that Feedom Freedom emphasizes community first and foremost. This stands in contradiction to prevailing systems of mass production, which is completely impersonal and tends to deplete the soil.

What does the work in the garden represent?

Wayne stated that it represents a sort of “war without bloodshed,” a new kind of revolution that is based on societal transformation. It’s a new way of thinking, a people’s economy that allows us to live within in.  It stands for survival while transforming the ideology of our current system.

What is this new ideology?

Wayne: It represents a collective and communal ownership. When you think about it, how can land and food really be private? Food grows from molecules in the dirt, by the earth doing the work and using its energy from the sun. We only mingle these things together. (This was my favorite response of Wayne’s from our talk, by the way.) The communal aspect involves catering to the needs of the people. But, at the same time, don’t mistake us for charity. Myrtle chimed in at this point, which I wholeheartedly agree with: “charity is not dignity.”

I really like that — thank you guys!

Kale Krisps

Serves 8

2 bunches kale, washed and dried

2 cubs shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Oil 2 baking sheets with olive oil or butter. Remove the stems from the kale, and shred the kale very thinly. Spread the shredded kale on baking sheets and sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake for 10 minutes until the kale is crispy and the cheese is brown. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Let it cool and eat up!

Serves 7

6 medium potatoes – peeled and cubes

2 cups chopped kale

1 large onion, chopped

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/8 tablespoon pepper

Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender. Add kale and onion.

Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes or until kale is tender. Drain well. Mash with butter; add salt and pepper to taste.

Fall Vegetable Soup

Serves 6

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 carrots, sliced

2 small potatoes, diced

1 parsnip, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup rice (uncooked)

1 /2 teaspoon salt

16-ounces whole tomatoes (fresh or canned)

2 cupcs white beans (soak overnight)

2 cups fresh kale, chopped

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

In a large soup pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent, about minutes. Add the broth, carrots, potatoes, parsnip, rice, thyme, and salt.

Once soup boils, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the tomatoes with juice, the white beans, kale, and squash; simmer about 20 minutes.

Add salt and pepper if desired. Enjoy!

Living for Change

Moving Detroit Forward via Milwaukee

By Myrtle Thompson-Curtis and Wayne Curtis, [from: Michigan Citizen, Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2010]

We were in the delegation of two dozen Detroit growers/farmers who traveled to Milwaukee over the September 10-12 weekend to attend the Good Food {R}evolution” Conference sponsored by Will Allen.

The son of a sharecropper and a former professional basketball player, Will is now a farmer, not just any farmer but the principal farmer and CEO of Growing Power Inc.

There are many things to learn from and about this man who is behind the

Will Allen, via: http://www.psfk.com/

Milwaukee urban agriculture movement. Through Growing Power Inc. Will Allen maintains a sustainable farm and community center which ensures that all Milwaukee residents, regardless of their economic circumstances, have access to fresh, nutritious food. In 2008 he was awarded the prestigious “Genius” award by the MacArthur Foundation for his work, only the second farmer ever to be so honored. In February 2010 he joined Michelle Obama in launching “Let’s Move,” her signature program to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in America. In May 2010 TIME magazine named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

The Milwaukee conference attracted at least 1500 participants and assembled a powerful tool box of resources to further the Good Food movement, The “D” was well represented at the conference, and we all had something to bring to the table. As we converged and traded information with folks from as far away as Hawaii, Toronto and Austria, we always kept a grounded focus on how we can continue to grow the good food {r}evolution and build a fresh, healthy, affordable food system. We need to support our local farmers, both to build this local economy, and to restore our spiritual connection to the food that we eat. We have to be more than consumers. .

There was plenty of information to take home and apply, from composting to alternative energy. All phases of growing urban agriculture were covered. We were particularly interested in, and hope to implement back in our community, solar and wind energy as well as vermicomposting, or composting with earthworms.

Recycling also played a very big role during the weekend. At one break-away workshop, Will Allen talked for two hours on the benefits of organic composting. There were recycle bins on every wall for every disposable item, including food scraps.

One particularly encouraging aspect of the conference was the commitment by civic and business leaders to Growing Power and community growing, This is something we want to see in Detroit. For example, Rocky Marcoux, the Commissioner for the Department of City Development, addressed the forum, The role of government, he said, is not to stop these things that are working in Milwaukee, but to allow and encourage people to use their God-given talents to create and expand them.

We were impressed by the ways Will Allen has found to link grassroots and civic leadership so that they support one another, He encouraged us to bridge that gap in Detroit.

IT CAN HAPPEN HERE. Milwaukee doesn’t seem that different a town except it appears that they’ve had a longer time to deal with the loss of industrial jobs. One thing we noticed, in contrast to Detroit, is the absence of gas stations. Not having gas stations on every corner cuts down on the amount of junk food that kids and adults consume in mass proportions all day long. Fewer gas stations would force people to spend their food dollars more wisely. Another contrast was the early closing of stores, keeping down late night crime and concentrating folks in the comfortable well-lit downtown area where it feels safe to walk.

Detroit has countless citizens who love our city and are working together to create alternatives like these at this very moment. We are ready to support one another to build up a local economy, food justice policy, and continue to fight for social and economic fairness.

My USSF Conversation with Immanuel Wallerstein can be read by clicking here.

How can we have an economy so that people don’t go hungry. — Wayne Curtis

Excerpted material from YES! Magazine, by Sarah van Gelder

Myrtle Thompson Curtis and Wayne Curtis took a small, empty plot of land, brought together friends, members of a nearby church, and other volunteers, and began the Feed’om Freedom Growers. Tomatoes, greens, strawberries, and other crops grow in raised beds and in rows. They also teach classes on healthy cooking, and a book club was started by young people who work in the garden.

“I went to my old neighborhood, and I had to cry,” Curtis told a group visiting his garden as part of a tour sponsored by the Allied Media Conference. “There’s nothing there. Nothing at all. They were telling me about their friends, who were my friends growing up, who are no longer with us.”

Slowly, their new block is changing. Myrtle Curtis was encouraged when neighbors down the street came out when they saw a crowd of people getting off a bus and out of a caravan of cars to visit the garden. “We don’t see our neighbors much,” she said. “This area is too scary to mingle. But they came out to participate, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Now Wayne and Myrtle are looking to expand to an empty lot across the street from the garden, and they’d like to use an abandoned house that borders on the lot as a community center.

“It’s a question of money and control and misuse of power,” Wayne Curtis told the group. “This is a problem we need to resolve like adults,” he said. “I was homeless, and I walked past a grocery store, and I was hungry, and that didn’t make any sense to me. … How can we get this land. How can we get seeds and bees so we can make honey. How can we have an economy so that people don’t go hungry.”

There are over 800 community gardens, ranging from the small and precarious, to large entities like Earth Works that are increasingly able to bring fresh foods to Detroit’s food deserts and give Detroiters opportunities for meaningful work and involvement in their communities.