From the Ground Up Remarkable Success; Makes Business Sense of Urban Agriculture

We keep hearing about urban farming, community gardens and these sorts of things. It’s a hot topic, especially in the City of Detroit, where nearly one-half of the city’s 138 square miles is now vacant. What are we going to do with all of this vacant land? This question seems to pop-up everywhere, just like tulips in the flower box of a downtown apartment.

Our From the Ground Up event, which was organized by our Events Chairman and Vice President, Tim Westerdale, helped shed a bit of light on questions about urban agriculture in the City of Detroit. By all accounts, it was an extremely informative and insightful event; the comments and feedback from those who attended and from our panelists have been extremely positive.

Our keynote speech, by John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press and author of Reimagining Detroit, was a provocative talk on the factors affecting the growth of urban agriculture in Detroit. John was followed by Kathryn Underwood, Detroit City Planner, who talked about how urban farming is manifesting itself in the city and the importance of inclusiveness to the development of effective policy.

Gary Wozniak, of Recovery Park moderated the first panel, which included Jeff Adams, P3 Enterprises; Noah Link, Peck Produce; Michelle Lutz, Recovery Park and Jeff McCabe, Nifty Hoops. This group really opened up the discussion about the business aspects of urban agriculture and how, if done correctly, urban farming can be profitable.

Our next panel, which was moderated by Ty Petrie, of Dirt:Works included Deveri, Brooklyn Street Local; Noam Kimmelman, Fresh Corner Café and John Kohl, Atlas Wholesale Foods. This group of entrepreneurs gave us a look at what it takes to get urban agriculture start-ups off the ground.

Finally, Dan Carmody of Eastern Market gave us one of his highly energetic talks on “regional food systems”, which is the term Dan emphasizes in his message. We are embarking on a transformation from a food system dominated by large scale agriculture, to one that will be much more diverse and resilient. Dan’s talked showed us what this transformation will look like and how Eastern Market will play a key role in it.

Our last stop was a tour of Detroit Market Garden, which is a short walk from Bert’s Marketplace. Here we saw a working urban farm and got a chance to see what it’s like to take food from the ground up.

Our thanks go out to everyone at Bert’s Marketplace and Detroit Market Garden who helped make this event an unqualified success.

Here are a few pictures from the event.


Gary Wozniak, of Recovery Park talks about their business model for putting people to work growing and processing food.


Michelle Lutz, of Recovery Park talks about her experience over the years as an organic farmer.


Jeff Adams, of P3 Enterprises, addresses the crowd with an inspiring talk about putting people to work in the Brightmoor district.


Having perseverance is the key to being a start-up entrepreneur in urban agriculture. Here, Noah Link, of Peck Produce, talks about his experience running an urban agriculture start-up.


Jeff McCabe points to an image of a Nifty Hoop filled with a diverse crop of plants. Hoop houses help urban farms grow produce year round.



Tim Westerdale, our Vice President and Events Chair introduces the first panel. Tim’s work on this event was instrumental; his experience and what he learned in the process is invaluable to SMSBF. Our thanks to Tim!


Members of our audience enjoy Bert's Marketplace food. The meeting room reflects the edgy, post-industrialism style that's so much part of the Detroit scene.

Members of our audience enjoy Bert’s Marketplace food. The meeting room reflects the edgy, post-industrialism style that’s so much part of the Detroit scene.