Frontier Farms is the community farm and garden arm of our work here at The Detroit Homestead. We’ve had many different hands in the dirt here from 8-year-old neighbors, to guests who have come to stay with us, to friends in Detroit just wanting to spend some time in the sunshine. Now in its third year, we work with anyone interested in gardening to apply a collection of skills to transform a quarter-acre of abandoned lots next to The Detroit Homestead into a densely cultivated community farm eventually providing fresh fruits, veggies, honey, eggs, and cheese to The Homestead and the friends and neighbors that help either through funding or manual labor. We couldn’t even begin to make this happen without the help and support of basically everyone we know, though our core team currently consists of just three:
- One mechanical guru and general strongman who can fix anything he touches and till with a shovel for days;
- One born-and-raised farm girl from Amish country, PA applying years of academic and business experience to a return to sustainable living;
- One new transplant to Detroit with roots elsewhere in the rust belt (by the scenic route of Seattle) who we are lucky enough to have here at The Homestead before she leaves to start her own fiber business and dye lab elsewhere in the city.
Since we aim to fund and complete all of the work from laying out beds to transforming the soil from compact, organic-poor lawn into nourishing, nutrient-rich soil for the garden, to constructing compost bins and water catchment systems ourselves and with the aid of friends, neighbors, and other individual contributors, we anticipate that our vision for the farm will take several years to fully realize. Now entering our third year of development, here’s what we’re planning to accomplish:
- Construct additional vertical support for climbing varieties on a large trellis arcing over the central promenade of the garden to create a shaded central path through the garden for neighbors and visitors passing through, while maximizing the productivity of squash and melons
- Establish 2+ “teaching rows” for neighbors and kids to get more self-directed experience in preparing a bed, selecting varieties to grow, planting, care, and harvesting.
- Construct water catchment system for irrigation
- Construct at least one top bar beehive and establish a colony
- Plant additional fruit trees and brambles
- Establish farm stand to make excess produce available to the community
- Construct shed/garage for storage and indoor animal space
- Establish chicken, ducks, rabbits, and pygmy goats for eggs, meat, dairy, and fur
HOW YOU CAN HELP
As a young farm, we are still in the process of building the infrastructure that will sustain us for years to come. In an effort to keep our costs low and repurpose/reuse as many local materials as we can, we’ve created a wish list of recyclable and second-hand items. If the desire to support local urban agriculture burns within you, we would happily accept donations of any of the following:
- Burlap sacks/coffee bags
- Left-over vegetable/flower seeds
- Wooden pallets
- Old windows
- Food- grade plastic barrels (55+gal)
- Rubber bands
- Zip ties
- Duct tape/masking tape
- Office supplies (pens, clipboards, markers/sharpies)
- Paint brushes
- Chicken wire/metal fencing
- Popsicle sticks (for marking rows, not eating…although we’ll happily take popsicles, too!)
- Wash basin/double sink
- Wood or metal plant stakes
- Ball canning jars
- Gardening tools (trowels, shovels, rakes, pruners, etc.)
If you’re feeling super generous, we maintain a rolling list of tools and supplies that we need to continue work and development on Amazon.com. You can also donate to the project via Paypal if you feel so inspired!
And of course…we encourage any and all community members to visit the farm and lend a hand regardless of skill level! We guarantee that you’ll leave with dirt under your nails and a greater understanding of how food is grown.
If you’re interested in volunteering your time or would like to donate any used/recycled goods on our list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org!
See you down on the farm!
Alyssa & Matt