Revitalizing Communities – Snapshots of Successful Urban Agriculture Models

Over 900 participants tuned in to the PolicyLink Equitable Strategies for Growing Urban Agriculture webinar on February 16 to listen to Mary Donnell of Green City Growers, Ian Marvy of Added Value, and Malik Yakini of Detroit Black Community Food Security Network discuss the process of starting up and maintaining their successful but very different urban agriculture models.

Urban agriculture—from school gardens to small farms planted on underutilized land—represents an innovative approach to improving access to healthy food for many low-income communities and communities of color. Urban farms spring up for a variety of reasons: to improve access to healthy food, to revitalize neighborhoods, and to create new economic opportunities through job creation and job training programs.

The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network addresses unmet food needs for its community by growing over 30 different fruits and vegetables that are sold locally at the farm itself and at three farmers’ markets each week. Using food as a vehicle for economic improvement, Added Value empowers youth by developing their skills through involvement with the farm and farmers’ market and pays them a monthly stipend that can expand their families’ incomes by as much as 30 percent. Similarly, Green City Growers expects to create more than 40 living-wage jobs for local low-income residents, revitalizing both the economic and health prospects of the neighborhood.

The speakers also shared many of the challenges they face including land insecurity and funding.  Each offered strategies for addressing those challenges such as working with city council to secure long-term leases; forming strategic partnerships with city government and other nonprofits; and incorporating youth volunteers and youth training for young people living in the surrounding low-income community. These three organizations highlight the innovation, location-specific solutions, opportunities, and exciting momentum surrounding urban agriculture in America.

This PolicyLink webinar was the first of a three-part series in current work to improve access to healthy food for low-income communities and communities of color. To learn more about urban agriculture, visit the PolicyLink Urban Agriculture and Community Garden tool and look out for the release of our urban agriculture report this spring.  You can sign up to stay informed about the PolicyLink urban agriculture webinar miniseries at

Photo credit: Tim Wagner Photography for HEAC


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