Yesterday was my last day at work. It’s a little bittersweet since I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing, but I’m also really excited about this new season that’s coming. We went out for a farewell lunch yesterday with the core staff at CDC (We went to an Indian place with a lunch buffet, which some people enjoyed and some tolerated ☺)
I started out writing a series of posts in the fall about what I’m doing in Detroit. I wrote about the tutoring program and about hanging out with kids from my neighborhood, but I never got to the main parts of my actual job. I should probably use this post to reflect more on the transition and what I’ve learned in this season, but I want to tell you about what I’ve been doing.
The biggest component of my work in the last year has been helping start a fruit and vegetable market in the neighborhood. There are not very many grocery options in the neighborhood and since half the residents don’t have access to a car, they end up buying a lot of food at convenience stores, gas stations, and liquor stores. We also have lots of lifestyle related health issues in the neighborhood. In response to request from people living in the neighborhood and our own experience trying to access fresh and healthy food living in the neighborhood, CDC (Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation) decided to start a produce market. You can read more about all of that here.
The idea was to open the store first and then add a produce truck that would go around the neighborhood selling fruits and vegetables. But construction always takes longer than you think and city inspections, permits, etc. take forever, even when you’re in a better functioning city than Detroit ☺. We had a small grant to get started, so we bought and fixed up a truck to start selling around the neighborhood last summer.
In the meantime, I’ve work a variety of hats as it relates to Peaches and Greens. I’ve done the produce purchasing, served as manager, put operating procedures in place, worked in the store, led cooking demos with teens and adults from the neighborhood, been the go-to person when things goes wrong, been the liaison with a group from MSU working with food desert issues, etc. It’s been an interesting process: usually crazy, but almost always fun. It’s really good to see people’s enthusiasm about having fresh produce in the neighborhood and it’s good to see how far this has come. It’s also good to know that we’ve seen some problems and are doing something about them.
The other big part of what I’ve been doing is coordinating our community garden efforts. We have a children’s garden that’s in its fourth year and a new garden that is just starting this year. Some of the produce is going home with the people working in the gardens and the rest will be sold to Peaches and Greens as a way both for people to earn income and to get more locally grown produce in the store. I worked with kids in the children’s garden all last summer and fall. I’ve worked with them to get everything planted this year, but have now (mostly) passed it on. You can read more about the gardens here.
Ways to pray for these endeavors:
- Committed people from the neighborhood to continue working in the gardens
- Several people who are able to make a longer term commitment to the children’s garden
- That these initiatives would make a difference in people’s health and wellbeing
- That the kids working in the garden would see God’s hand in creation and in providing for their needs
- That the gardens would be a safe haven and peaceful space in the midst of a somewhat chaotic neighborhood
- For each of the employees at Peaches and Greens - they all deal with a variety of issues in their own lives, but are working so hard to grow and are committed to the store.
- For an increase in customers at Peaches and Greens that will make the store viable and profitable in the long run
- For favor in partnerships with various organizations that want to help the store grow and increase access to fresh and healthy foods around the city.