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Michigan Urban Farming Initiative seeks funds to build America's first sustainable "agrihood"

Rendering of MUFI's agrihood

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) is looking to strengthen its mission in Detroit's North End neighborhood with the transformation of an abandoned three-story apartment building into a community center. Should MUFI successfully raise $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) will provide a $50,000 matching grant.

MUFI has been steadily working toward its goal of building "America's First Sustainable Urban Agrihood" since purchasing land in the North End in 2011. The planned community center, which would offer gathering space and nutritional and educational programming, would join a two-acre urban farm, 200-tree fruit orchard, children's sensory garden, water harvesting cistern, and more. A healthy food cafe and commercial kitchen is also planned.

A non-profit made up of volunteers, MUFI provides more than 300 varieties of produce to approximately 2,000 households, churches, and food pantries within a two-square mile radius of the farm. The produce is free.

The crowdfunding campaign and matching grant is part of MEDC's Public Spaces, Community Places placemaking initiative. MUFI has until Sunday, April 2 to meet or exceed the goal, which is being hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity crowdfunding platform.

Auburn Hills-based automotive suppler BorgWarner kicked off the campaign with a $10,000 donation.

"The Public Spaces, Community Places placemaking grant is a creative way for supporters of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative to have a hand in helping build America's first sustainable urban agrihood located in Detroit's lower North End community," Tyson Gersh, president and co-founder of MUFI, says in a statement. "Through the program, we can expand our agricultural campus with donations used to fund the restoration of a long-vacant building into the neighborhood's most sustainable Community Center along with a new healthy food café."

Click here to view the status of the crowdfunding campaign.

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is located at 7432 Brush St. in Detroit.

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Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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