The Women of Keep Growing Detroit

In the middle of downtown Detroit, just a a few blocks from the city’s lively Eastern Market, sits The Keep Growing Detroit Farm. It’s a hotspot of workshops for growers of all ages and the birthplace of the popular Motown Music garlic seed.

Keep Growing Detroit is a nonprofit devoted to the city’s food sovereignty, helping the community cultivate their own healthy produce in a sustainable way. Their Garden Resource Program, now over 15 years old, has woven a connection across thousands of local gardens, providing resources and tools to the area.

Nikolette Barnes (pictured above), a Detroit native, has been growing food since 2008. For many years, she worked alongside her dad, the farm manager of D-Town Farm. Using the skills her father taught her, she took a summer job supervising kids who were learning how to grow their own food. Nikolette bonded with them deeply and discovered her passion to teach young people about food sovereignty. Her mission is to expose her hometown to the Food Justice Movement. Through that, she hopes to see a shift in how consumers utilize their spending power, making better food choices overall.

“My title is Early Childhood Garden Development and Family Engagement Specialist. I am responsible for all facets–garden and farm to table education–in the early childhood centers. I do everything from training teachers and parents on basic gardening skills to installing garden beds at schools…Our programs provide gardeners with seeds, plants, education, and technical resources to grow and sell sustainable produce in the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park.

Urban Agriculture institutions like Keep Growing Detroit are vital for communities because of the need for access to tangible resources for growing food. It’s also important that Detroiters living in low-income communities are provided with accessible and affordable options for healthy food. KGD helps to foster an environment for thousands of growers to help fill that need.

The best part of my work is being surrounded by the next generation of food revolutionaries! I absolutely am blessed to be able to teach the babies how to grow, cook, and love the food that they grew for themselves. I also love completely transforming the mindset of someone who didn’t think they could grow food or enjoy fresh vegetables. It’s pretty rewarding.

The most challenging part of my work is dispelling the myths and breaking down the walls that result from misinformation about healthy eating and agriculture. It’s also very difficult to do this work while actively fighting against the system of oppression that creates tangible barriers to families having access to fresh locally grown food.” -Nikolette Barnes of Keep Growing Detroit Keep Growing Detroit / Crafted in CarharttKeep Growing Detroit / Crafted in CarharttMolly Hubbell (pictured below) is the Farm Operations Coordinator for Keep Growing Detroit. Her background is in plant and soil science. She’s spent many years farming, working in different positions and various situations. When she’s not at work, she’s on her own farm, in north Detroit.

“I started working in nurseries 16 years ago, and have been a gardener/farmer my whole life. My mom is an avid gardener (Master Gardener), and my father passed on his appreciation for the natural world…Farmers don’t have superpowers, we rely on intuition. That intuition comes with time and patience, and can be learned by anyone willing to put the time in.” -Molly Hubbell of Keep Growing Detroit

“My back has been sore for 16 years. Totally worth it.” -Molly Hubbell of Keep Growing Detroit

Keep Growing Detroit / Crafted in CarharttKeep Growing Detroit / Crafted in Carhartt

Keep Growing Detroit / Crafted in Carhartt
Lindsay Pielack

Lindsay Pielack is a Co-Director of Keep Growing Detroit. Her background is in Resource Ecology and Management, with a B.S. from University of Michigan. She played an influential role in the Garden Resource Program, helping it grow from 70 gardens to almost 1,500 gardens in just 8 years. Lindsay has lived in Detroit her entire life, and works hard to keep the community links strong.

“On a regular basis, I am supporting residents to start gardens and for those without a green thumb, I always encourage them to start by putting their hands into the soil and grow something! Once they do, the fire will be lit with the excitement of growing their own food and from there, I would say that every year is an opportunity to get better at it! One season at a time!

I would recommend that everyone, young or old, try their hand at growing something. You don’t have to commit to growing all your own food, just get connected to where your food comes from. There are lots of ways to do this, as simply as starting a container of herbs in your window or volunteering at a garden or farm near you.” -Lindsay Pielack of Keep Growing Detroit

Anita Singh (pictured above) is the Youth Programs Coordinator at Keep Growing Detroit.
Drawing from her background as a high school science teacher, she runs the farm education program. Anita has developed youth programs in many different cities, including Cartegena, Columbia.

Keep Growing Detroit / Crafted in Carhartt

Imani S. Foster (pictured above) is the Farmers’ Market Coordinator at Keep Growing Detroit. She is a native Detroiter who found her way into farming unexpectedly as a Crew Leader with the Student Conservation Association. Her role has expanded from vacant lot reclamation to Farmers’ Market Coordinator.

“The food a person sustainably grows is so much better than what’s bought in the supermarkets. Placing your hands in the soil is healing. A person can reestablish relations with family and friends by working together…

One of the best parts of my work is helping the small gardener earn capital. Of course, I love that our customer base continues to grow. There is something so exciting about folks coming to the table and sharing how glad they are that we are back for the season. I know that the work I’m doing as the Grown in Detroit Market coordinator is retooling the culture that this is their (the gardeners’) business to grow.” -Imani Foster of Keep Growing Detroit

Keep Growing Detroit / Crafted in Carhartt
Lola Kristi Gibson-Berg, Molly Hubbell, Imani Foster, and Anita Singh

Lola Kristi Gibson-Berg (pictured below) is the Community Education Coordinator at Keep Growing Detroit. She’s a Detroit native and a proud graduate of The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. It was during her senior year at Kalamazoo College she realized her passion for growing food. She graduated from Kalamazoo with a BA in Human Development and Social Relations and then returned to Detroit.

“Farming makes me feel hopeful. It’s a privilege to be connected to a community of people in the city who know how to grow food, enjoy doing so, and are cultivating and growing their communities.” -Lola Kristi Gibson-Berg of Keep Growing Detroit

Keep Growing Detroit / Crafted in CarharttKeep Growing Detroit / Crafted in Carhartt“As a single mother and female farmer, I struggle with having enough time to spend with my son while also being very active in the urban agriculture community. I hope to pass on the tangible knowledge of how to grow his own food on a small or large scale. Currently he is enrolled in a program called Food Warriors (housed by Detroit Black Community Food Security Network) where he is growing food as well as exploring food justice on a local and global level. We garden at my home and two community gardens. He is in charge of watering the plants at home! I also hope to pass on the importance of being an active and contributing member of the community that you live in. ” -Nikolette Barnes of Keep Growing Detroit

Keep Growing Detroit / Crafted in Carhartt
Nikolette Barnes

“I wish people knew how therapeutic farming can be. There is so much healing when you put your hands in the soil and grow something that will nourish your body. I also wish people knew how easy it is grow food at your home. People often feel like growing food is something only those with a green thumb can achieve. That is a huge myth, especially as it relates to growing on a small scale. There are so many resources for new gardeners to learn basic gardening skills..

I definitely do not have superpowers when it comes to growing food. I am still learning so much about how to problem solve as it’s related to my crops or soil quality. Farming makes me feel powerful…It’s not a walk in the park or romantic. Sometimes you will experience seasons where nothing grows abundantly or someone steals all of your melons. Stay the course.” -Nikolette Barnes of Keep Growing Detroit

If you’d like to find out more about the work these outstanding women are doing in Detroit, click here.

Barbie Thompson Lee of Lucky Dog Ranch

Barbie Thompson Lee left the advertising world to become a farmer in Valley Center, just outside of San Diego. She invested many years developing her own company, but felt it was time for something new. So she went out in search of the perfect plot of land to begin her new adventure—where she’d have to start from scratch, and self-teach her way to success.

“I think some people have a picture of a small farm as an idyllic place that’s kind of laid back and simple. The reality here is that there are always so many things that need to be done and sometimes it feels more like warfare than a laid back place. It’s a constant battle to keep on top of the various bugs that are out to eat your plants, the birds, squirrels and gophers who are found of eating them too, the broken or chewed through irrigation lines. You can’t ever let your guard down.” -Farmer Barbie Thompson Lee

Lucky Dog Ranch / Crafted in Carhartt

Tomatoes are Barbie’s favorite crop.

“I start the seeds in the greenhouse in February then plant when we think it’s safe from frost. Most of the plants go through September or October if we’re lucky so it’s a long time you spend with them. There are so many different varieties that it’s really fun planning out what you are going to grow and adding new varieties to your favorite producers.” -Farmer Barbie Thompson Lee

Although Lucky Dog Ranch is named for Barbie’s pack of happy dogs, she also has quite a few other four-legged friends. There’s Tigger and Tom, a set of barn cat brothers, and horses Buddy and Joanie.

“There really isn’t one Lucky Dog. We really liked seeing how happy our dogs were when we moved out here. They had so much room to play and just be themselves that the name just came about.” -Farmer Barbie Thompson Lee

Lucky Dog Ranch / Crafted in CarharttLucky Dog Ranch / Crafted in Carhartt

I asked Barbie what skills from her previous career translated into her new lifestyle. It turns out having a sense of humor has been crucial in her journey.

“Farming can be really humbling and your plants don’t care how important you think you are or what promises you’ve made on their behalf. They are just going to do what they are going do. You can’t take yourself to seriously. They are really the ones in charge. You just need to do what you can to support them…Never give up! It’s a very rewarding lifestyle. You’ll learn a lot about yourself as well as how to bring a crop to market.” -Farmer Barbie Thompson Lee

It’s All About Arugula

The popular vegetable arugula is also known as rocket salad. You might think it’s because of its spicy taste, but you’d be wrong. It comes from the French word roquette, used to identify an unspecified plant in the Brassicaceae family.

Arugula adds a peppery kick of vitamin C and potassium to any dish (like pizzas, omelets, or salads). It’s a cool season plant that enjoys the full sun and well-drained soil. Get a load of these images of the fast growing plant being planted and harvested in a Park City green house.  It may be snowing outside, but there are plenty of green things in here!

Green House in the Winter / Crafted in CarharttGreen House in the Winter / Crafted in CarharttGreen House in the Winter / Crafted in CarharttGreen House in the Winter / Crafted in CarharttGreen House in the Winter / Crafted in Carhartt

Amanda Forgash and Natalie Pappas of Flowers for Dreams

Last week, we talked about how the Chicago start-up, Flowers for Dreams, donates one fourth of their profits to local charities. Well, the donated buck doesn’t stop there. Amanda Forgash and Natalie Pappas are florists for this socially minded business. They are spearheading the movement of transparent pricing in the wedding market. You can now give back to your community as you plan your wedding and rest assured that there won’t be hidden fees or markups before the process is complete.

Take a peak at the Flower for Dreams Lookbook for some inspiration.

Tips from Amanda and Natalie about getting into the florist business:

  • Begin working at a floral shop and see if it’s the right fit.
  • Keep in mind you will be starting from the bottom and working your way up. Be prepared to get dirty!
  • All florists started sweeping the floors of a flower shop, prepping vases, and processing flowers. Those are necessary skills needed to appreciate the end product and understand why each flower is important.
  • Proper floral care is unique to every flower.
  • Always explore different ways of doing things and share tips with your fellow designers through your own personal aesthetics.
  • When creating a bouquet for someone in particular, allow their personality and traits to show through with color, texture, and flower type. Capturing the essence of a person through mother nature is rewarding beyond measure.

Flowers for Dreams / Crafted in Carhartt

Flowers for Dreams / Crafted in CarharttFlowers for Dreams / Crafted in CarharttFlowers for Dreams / Crafted in CarharttFlowers for Dreams / Crafted in CarharttFlowers for Dreams / Crafted in CarharttFlowers for Dreams / Crafted in Carhartt

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DIY Starting Seeds in Eggshells

We’ve still got snow on the ground, but it’s a good time to thinking about your garden and get some seeds started indoors.  It’s simple and fun and it’ll save you some cash. If you don’t have a garden patch in your yard, there’s a lot you can grow a lot with containers on a porch or balcony. There are tons of ways to start seeds,  but using eggshells is a great way to recycle. Plus they’re nice to look at, and they’re fantastic fertilizer.

Supplies: eggshells, needle, spoon, seeds, potting soil, plant hardiness zone map/calendar (available on seed packets and online)

1. Check out what growing region you live in and decide what you want to plant and when.
2. Treat your friends to giant omelets (they can repay you later by helping plant your garden).  Save and rinse the eggshells.
3. Using a big needle, poke a hole in the shell to allow for drainage. I found it easiest to do this while the eggs are in the container.
4. Fill them most of the way with your soil.
5. Plant your seeds and put a little more dirt on top.
6. Use a waterproof pen to label the eggs.
7. Give your little seeds a spritz of water.
8. Place the seeds where they will get the appropriate amount of light. Cross your fingers.

Tips:
– If you’re not a planner or you just missed your window to start your plants, don’t worry. It can be fun to just wing it and see what happens.
– Extra large or jumbo work best.
– It’s very easy to over water seedlings, which leads to moldy pots of dirt and/or death of your seedlings. That’s why I’m trying a spray bottle this year.
– I mostly started veggies but did a few flowers as well. Little sprouts in eggshells should make a good Easter or Mother’s Day gift.

DIY Eggshell Seedlings / Crafted in CarharttDIY Eggshell Seedlings / Crafted in CarharttDIY Eggshell Seedlings / Crafted in CarharttDIY Eggshell Seedlings / Crafted in CarharttDIY Eggshell Seedlings / Crafted in CarharttDIY Eggshell Seedlings / Crafted in Carharttxoxo,
Laura
Laura Aronson / Crafted in Carhartt

DIY Copper Cone Planter

There is something playful, yet sophisticated about this copper cone planter. Crafting with metal is a new experience for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is an empowering feeling when you use a mallet to form and mold. It takes a bit of sweat and elbow grease, but I like to think that kind of creative activity is good for the soul.

Constructing this succulent home was a blast, but it was a bit messy too. I made sure to wear the right work gear and freshen things up with Tide® Simply Clean and Fresh Laundry Detergent once I finished the project.

what you need: a copper sheet, copper wire, metal scissors, wire cutters, a hammer or mallet, potting dirt, rocks, a plant, and a plant mat
Copper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in CarharttCopper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in CarharttCopper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in CarharttCopper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in CarharttCopper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in CarharttCopper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in CarharttCopper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in CarharttCopper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in CarharttCopper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in CarharttCopper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in CarharttCopper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in CarharttCopper Cone Planter DIY / Crafted in Carhartt

 

Freshen your work clothes with Tide® Simply Clean and Fresh Laundry Detergent.

Chelsea Updegrove of Urban Farm Collective

Urban Farm Collective in Portland
Urban Farm Collective in Portland
Urban Farm Collective in Portland
Urban Farm Collective in Portland
Urban Farm Collective in Portland
Urban Farm Collective in Portland
Urban Farm Collective in Portland
Urban Farm Collective in Portland
Urban Farm Collective in Portland
Urban Farm Collective in Portland
Are you familiar with the Broken Windows Theory? It’s the idea that when a neighborhood begins to fall into disrepair, it jumpstarts a downward spiral for the entire community. That negativity spreads and leads to more decay and even crime. The good thing is that the opposite action of investing in your home and stomping grounds leads to further beautification in that area. That’s the driving force behind Urban Farm Collective in Portland. They transform unused land into neighborhood food gardens. This fosters community development, promotes education, and food security.
I got to follow garden manager, Chelsea Updegrove, around as she tended some of her daily tasks. It’s hard work, but it’s every bit fulfilling as it is demanding. Hours spent kneeling over rows of carefully planted seedlings, covered in dirt, call for clothing that wears mud well. Take a look at Chelsea’s work wear: Carhartt Women’s Minot Shirt, Sibley Denim Cropped Pant, Force Equator Jacket, Plaid Military Cap, and Rapid City Utility Work Apron.
I’ll leave you with a parting quote from Chelsea, “Peace, love, and carrots.”

From Mother Nature to Mom

DIY Driftwood Heart / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Driftwood Heart / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Driftwood Heart / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Driftwood Heart / Crafted in Carhartt

DIY Driftwood Heart / Crafted in Carhartt

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we’re all thinking about how to tell Mom she’s the best. If she’s a nature-lover, here’s just the gift. It’s simple, free, and crafted out of appreciation for her. You’ll need: about 30 to 40 short sticks of varying shapes and sizes, paper, scissors, and a hot glue gun. First start by cutting a heart template out of paper. Then find a few of the bigger sticks to form the outline of the heart. Glue those together so that they feel sturdy. Then fill in the gaps with other sticks, gluing them in place as you go until the shape is completely solid. It hangs on the wall easily. Just put up a nail and let a few of the back sticks catch it. It takes a little finessing to get it level. You could carry the outdoor theme even further by giving your mom a few gardening essentials. This Cahartt Women’s Force Performance Verdon Polo is perfect for a day of hard work outside. It releases stains, wicks sweat, and prevents odors. Another great gift for a mom with a green thumb is the Carhartt Women’s C-Grip Knuckler Glove.

A Simpler, More Sustainable Life

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

Sterling Homestead Wisconsin

This is the time of year for recollecting and being with loved ones. It’s the season for taking a look at your life and feeling grateful. Perhaps it’s just the right time to rethink your approach to everyday. Maybe we don’t need all the odds and ends we wrap up and give to each other. Maybe we just need to take a deep breath, enjoy the nature around us, and connect with the people that mean the most to us.

Last week, I drove through snow and ice to meet up with Suzy Clark at her winter paradise. She and her husband run a 10 acre plot of field and forest called Sterling Homestead. They grow organic fruits and veggies, which they sell through CSA and local markets, and preserve their harvest during the winter months. Suzy and Joseph live almost entirely off the grid with solar power, wood heat, and no running water in their charming cabin.

Without the distractions of television, internet, and cell phones, there is a sense of peace that exudes from warmth of their home. Over a cup of coffee and the smell of baking bread, Suzy and I chatted about the ins and outs of leading a more sustainable life. Their interest in permaculture practices (that’s environmental design that develops sustainable agriculture modeled after natural ecosystems) has taught them so much. What can you learn from taking a peak into Suzy’s everyday? Maybe we all could take some time to disconnect with technology for a bit and really link in to the immediate world around us.

Check out the winter work outfit that keeps Suzy warm during the bone chilling Wisconsin winter: Carhartt Women’s Sandstone Kenai Parka, Women’s Series 1989 Slim Double Front Dungaree, Force Performance Quarter-Zip Shirt, & Women’s Quilt’s Glove.