Posts By David Sands
Food entrepreneurship as an after-school activity? Over the last few years, Detroit Food Academy has been making exactly this a reality for young people in the Motor City.
With help from local educators, schools and food businesses, the nonprofit project teaches food preparation and leadership skills to Detroit high school students through after-school programming. Youth participants learn what it’s like run their own business and get a chance to whip up recipes and debut them at a pop-up-style event. Graduates of DFA’s fall-through-spring school program also have the opportunity to apply for summer internships.
Local food growers, consumers and entrepreneurs in the Lansing, Michigan area have had good cause to celebrate as of late. Last September, Allen Neighborhood Center, a community development agency that doubles as Mid-Michigan’s nonprofit food hub, opened the doors of a warehouse they’d spent months renovating.
Located directly behind their community center on the city’s northeast side, that building, the Allen Market Place, now serves as an incubator kitchen and indoor market. It’s also linked to an online market called the Exchange, that connects regional farmers and food producers with commercial and institutional buyers in a 75-mile range of Lansing.
Many of Detroit’s urban agriculture ventures have a down-on-the-farm feel to them, but not the CDC Farm & Fishery. If anything, with its tubes and tanks, the business seems downright futuristic. You see, the Farm & Fishery is among the first aquaponic operations to set up in Detroit following the passage of an urban agriculture ordinance last year.
Aquaponic is a term that describes enterprises where aquatic creatures are raised and their wastewater is recirculated to help grow plants that in turn filter it for reuse. Located in a two-level building in the North Central Woodward area of the city, the grow station is now raising tilapia fish and cultivating herbs and microgreens to sell to area businesses.
Finding a place to prepare one’s product is a challenge faced by many food startups. In the Motor City, A nonprofit program called Detroit Kitchen Connect is solving that problem by linking up local food businesses with underutilized neighborhood kitchen spaces.
“Folks who are interested in food entrepreneurship, novices opening their small food businesses, they need placement spaces where they can create product in a commercially-licensed facility,” Director Devita Davison tells Seedstock.
“So Detroit Kitchen Connect answers that demand for these small micro-processing facilities for entrepreneurs to grow, to scale and start to make it as a food business.”
Audra Mulkern, a mother and events planner who lives in rural Washington state, didn’t set out to be a photographer. Her interest in food and farming, however, has taken her down a path that’s brought her work to publications like Saveur Magazine and Modern Farmer.
Currently she’s profiling the lives and impact of women farmers with an online social documentary effort called the Female Farmer Project. Launched last year, it features pictures and stories of women who farm and work with artisanal foods, which Mulkern shares through her website and social media.
Just how did Mulkern get started photographing female farmers? Quite by accident, it turns out.
“Four years ago, I took a summer off from my own garden and decided I was going to get everything I needed from the farmers’ market,” she says. “Over the course of the summer, I had been taking photographs with my phone of the vegetables and started to realize I was documenting the entire season of the market.”