The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to engage members of the Michigan community in sustainable agriculture. We believe that challenges unique to the Michigan community (e.g., vacant land, poor diet, nutritional illiteracy, and food insecurity) present a unique opportunity for community-supported agriculture. Using agriculture as a platform to promote education, sustainability, and community—while simultaneously reducing socioeconomic disparity—we hope to empower urban communities.
Our core values reflect what is truly important to MUFI and its members. They provide the foundation for our motives, strategies, and implementation. The core values of MUFI are as follows
"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach him to fish and he will eat for life." By viewing urban farming and gardening as an educational opportunity we are hoping to provide a long term solution to the problem of food insecurity in urban areas. When people develop new skills they become actively engaged in the learning process. Through a combination of workshops and fieldwork, we hope to educate the citizen farmers and provide hands-on experience necessary for successful food production.
Most food is currently produced with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that are derived from fossil fuels. Fields are often planted with monoculture crops that deplete the soil of the same nutrients. This food is then processed and transported far distances by diesel burning semi trucks. The reliance of our nation on the finite resources of fossil fuels is polluting our atmosphere and compromising our security. Growing food locally minimizes environmental impacts on a local and global scale. When waste is recycled and crops are rotated, minimal fertilizer is needed to maintain high yields. Through using abandoned and vacant land, we also lessen the need to develop more farmland in rural areas.
By building relationships with the community we are better able to acheive our objective. Far to often organizations identify struggling populations, raise some money, build something, and give themselves a pat on the back as they leave, never to be seen or heard from again. This is not an effective strategy in engendering long term and sustainable change.
Some challenges we hope to target:
Some recent additions to the Michigan scenery include abandoned buildings and houses, unkempt land, and other poorly used spaces. Redeveloping these locations into food producing plots would be make them valuable assets to any community.
With the current state of Michigan's economy, a large community of unemployed people exists. These people are not bound by the constraints of 9-to-5 employment and may have more time available to participate in community service projects. Community farming can support a healthy lifestyle, especially in times of limited income.
Access to nutritious food
Urban areas have particular difficulty providing consistent access to nutritious food and fresh produce. Such circumstances are particularly acute in low-income neighborhoods, where people may not have access to transportation. Local urban gardens and farms provide a source of fresh, affordable produce available to the whole community.
Food miles and nutrition information
Many people are disconnected from their food and where it comes from. We intend to provide ongoing educational opportunities for the community concerning the growing and harvesting of produce, in addition to its nutritional value. We want people to develop a certain consciousness about where their food comes from and their role in the process.