These Detroiters seek nomination for a new USDA advisory commission on urban ag

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking nominees for a new 12-member national advisory committee on urban agriculture, and a Detroit group has a slate of potential candidates, any of whom could represent Detroit on the national body. 

The effort is part of a broader effort to focus on the needs of urban farmers.  The Detroit USDA Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee Support Network advisory committee is encouraging Detroiters to complete a short Google Form to endorse one or more candidates. The form asks the respondent for their name and email address which will be used to sign on to a letter to the USDA supporting the Detroit nominees. 

By providing contact information, endorsees will digitally support the slate of nominees. The press release notes: “your endorsement will help send a strong signal to the USDA to select committee members who represent, and are accountable to Detroit’s Urban Agricultural endeavors.” 

The potential candidates for the national advisory committee are: 

Kami Pothukuchi- SEED Wayne, Wayne State University
Renee V. Wallace- FoodPLUS Detroit
Kathryn Lynch Underwood- City of Detroit Planning Commission 
Anthony Hatinger- Detroit Ento, formerly CDC Urban Farms and Fishery 
Pashon Murray- Detroit Dirt
Jerry Ann Hebron- Oakland Avenue Urban Farm 
Erin Cole- Nurturing Our Seeds

Jerry Ann Hebron, Executive Director of Oakland Avenue Urban Farm said that she aspires to represent Detroit on the committee because “Detroit is the mecca for Urban Agriculture.” 

“We have the largest number of urban farms and gardens on a national level and a large percentage of our growers are Black and Brown,” she continued. She said that she wants to be a voice for growers here in Detroit and on a national scale.  

In 2018, Mrs. Hebron testified on behalf of Urban Agriculture for the 2018 Farm Bill. Her testimony was about the work that farmers do in urban communities to address food insecurity, stabilize communities, and develop employment opportunities.  

The 2018 Farm Bill established the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production and directed the USDA to form this advisory committee as well as make other advancements related to urban agriculture.

She says that the advisory committee is necessary because there is a clear inequity in funding support for Urban Farmers by USDA. 

Hebron added, “I will always speak on behalf of our needs and will listen to our community.” 

Detroit is an epicenter of Urban Agriculture supporting thousands of Detroit residents with locally grown food, employing and engaging residents in more than 2000 plus gardens and farms in the City. For example, Keep Growing Detroit (KGD) reported nearly 30,000 members in its Garden Resource Program in their 2020 Annual Report which can be found here.

This national committee will advise the Secretary of Agriculture on the development of policies and outreach relating to urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production practices; aspects of implementation and further develop recommendations, as well as other aspects of the implementation section of Subtitle A, Section 222 of the Reorganization Act of 1994. 

For more information on the Detroit USDA Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee Support Network, email [email protected]


Read more articles by Biba Adams.

Biba Adams is Model D's Editor at Large. Biba Adams is a longtime journalist whose work is fueled by her passion for people and her native Detroit. Her work has appeared in VIBE Ebony Magazine, and more. Find her on all social channels @BibatheDiva.
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