Tucked within a neighborhood near 12th Avenue and Beach Street in Flint is an urban farm that aims to provide approximately 2,000 pounds of produce into the community per year and offer learning programs and demonstrations to people of all ages.
The Edible Flint Educational Farm moved to its current location in 2018. The land they’re on was previously a private farm, so there were existing hoop houses, a well -- and a lot of potential. Volunteers recently re-wrapped one of the hoop houses in plastic.
“So far this summer, we’ve grown about 1,000 pounds of vegetables,” said Ginny Farah, a volunteer who manages the farm. “We still have at least until the end of September or mid-October for harvesting, so we should get to a ton, which is always our goal.”
The produce that is grown on the farm is given to Hurley Food FARMacy, which helps connect food insecure patients with healthy food sources and meals. Neighborhood residents also stop by and are provided with food.
“As more people have started talking to us and stopping by while we work, they’re bringing their family past or saying hi, or having conversations with us,” said Ge’Von Collins, Edible Flint’s AmeriCorps member. “Some people come and walk with their family here and get a bag of vegetables. The neighbors are feeling more comfortable with us around and like this is a part of their home space.”
Collins joined Edible Flint in February of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic immediately impacted some of the work he expected to be doing. Collins was anticipating doing administrative work, possibly recruiting volunteers or partner organizations. Instead, he’s spent a lot of his time on the farm.
“Going from being in an office to being outside for 40 hours a week is great,” he said. “Being more in tune with the community has been pretty awesome.”
The lack of volunteers due to COVID-19 caused a bit of a slow start, but when stay-at-home orders were loosened, Edible Flint was able to partner with Michigan State University Extension Master Gardeners to help maintain and harvest crops, which include a variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees, among others.
“The master gardeners have helped us so much,” Farah said. “We’ve had about three master gardeners three days per week and it has made all the difference, we’ve been able to keep up.”
The pandemic has also impacted other opportunities for the community to get involved at the farm this summer. Part of the appeal of the Education Farm property is its teaching and demonstration area. School groups and other organizations have a vast amount of space to come and learn about gardening, produce, and more. Last summer, the space was used and Edible Flint looks forward to being able to offer classes in the space again when it is safe to do so.
“There’s a lot of potential here because of the educational space,” said Scott Poinsett, a volunteer at the farm. “It provides great space for interactive teaching.”
Once the education space can reopen, there are vast opportunities for partnerships with community organizations that offer youth programming.
“We’re really excited for the future,” Farah said.
Along with providing produce into the community, the farm is also a resource to spread a passion for and knowledge of gardening. Collins said that people have stopped by to ask about how to start their own gardens on their property or lots near their homes.
“It’s giving people a little more control of their community, knowing there’s a place they can get fresh produce if they can’t get to a grocery store,” Collins said. “We’ve had people who come by and want to start their own gardens or raised beds, and we’ve been able to give them information or let them look at what we do, so it’s good that we can help with things like that.”
More information about Edible Flint is available online.