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For Earth Day we wanted to reflect on our April workshop, which educated folks on sustainable approaches to starting and maintaining their own community gardens.
On Saturday, April 8, Hope for Flowers hosted our Sustainability Workshop in partnership with Keep Growing Detroit, a nonprofit that promotes food sovereignty in Detroit by encouraging the cultivation and distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables within city limits. Two staff members from Keep Growing Detroit — Tepfirah Rushdan, co-director of education & capacity building, and Najah Naimah, education coordinator — presented to 15 attendees. Our class kicked off with everyone sharing their level of gardening expertise and the types of plants and produce they currently grow.
It’s important to note Keep Growing Detroit’s impact, which we learned during the workshop. The organization provides resources for locals to start their own family, community, school or market gardens. Keep Growing Detroit’s Garden Resource Program supplies residents in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park with gardening resources — including seeds, compost, and transplants — as well as gardening classes and guides. Since its inception, the Garden Resource Program has supported nearly 24,000 Detroiters and has distributed more than 45,000 packs of seeds and more than 220,000 transplants.
Rushdan and Naimah encouraged us to first think about our goals for our gardens before we even begin buying seeds and plotting land. We should consider why we want to start a garden, who will be involved, and what we want to grow, as all those factors impact what our garden will look like. When selecting a site for a garden, Rushdan stressed the importance of knowing who owns the property, understanding the land’s sun exposure and access to water, and having the soil tested for contaminants (Keep Growing Detroit offers one free soil testing per year as part of its Garden Resource Program).
We also learned the pros and cons of in-ground beds, raised beds, and containers; maintaining a garden through thinning, weeding, staking, and pruning; what types of crops to plant during certain seasons; and tips for warding off pests. Throughout the presentation, everyone actively listened, took notes, and asked questions about their own gardens, as well as questions about membership to Keep Growing Detroit.
Photo caption: Attendees learned how to make seed balls using air-dry clay and potting soil and small pots using newspaper. Photographs by Rachael Thomas
Our Sustainability Workshop wasn’t all just note-taking and watching a PowerPoint presentation; we also learned how to make our own seed balls and newspaper pots. For the seed balls, Rushdan and Naimah provided us with air-dry clay, potting soil, and seeds to make them. We were later given sheets of newspaper and cylinder molds to create the pots.
Hope for Flowers is more than an apparel brand; we aim to provide programming that keeps sustainable practices at the forefront of our curriculum and engages the Detroit community. Our events are free and open to the public. Want to attend our next one? Learn more about our Arts Enrichment Program.
Photo caption: Keep Growing Detroit’s Najah Naimah (second from left in the bottom row) and Tepfirah Rushdan (third from left in the bottom row) pose with attendees at our Sustainability Workshop, presented in early April. Photo by Rachael Thomas
I love ❤️ the work you are doing in the community. This is the kind of community I long to build in my own town. Very inspiring 👏🏾.
I’m thankful that you’re doing good for Detroit.