The Compuware urban garden Lafayette Greens
is now home to the first-ever farmers market in downtown Detroit. Located on the site of the former Lafayette Building, which was demolished in 2010, the garden is a result of Peter Karmanos, Jr. – Compuware's co-founder and Executive Chairman and also a Master Gardener – working with the city of Detroit to transform the area into a greenspace.
Lafayette Greens is a goodwill project of Compuware tended by volunteers. They grow organic fruits, vegetables and flowers in raised beds and have an heirloom orchard with apples, peaches and pears. There is also an aromatic lavender garden. The productive site yielded over 1,800 pounds of produce last year, which was donated to local food banks. The space is also designed as a park with plenty of seating where workers in the area can come for lunch and anyone can simply enjoy. Utilizing reclaimed materials such as concrete blocks, wooden pallets, and galvanized steel (roofing material) with a highly geometric design by Birmingham's Kenneth Weikal Landscape Architecture
, the park pays homage to its urban setting. There are also sculptures from local artists on display. "It satisfies design (aesthetics) that other gardens don't," says Gwen Meyer, Garden Coordinator.
The land is city-operated and the garden merely temporary. If and when a developer decides to buy the land, the garden will no longer exist. "(Lafayette Greens allows us to think about) how we engage open spaces in our city," Meyer says.
They were already hosting events like cooking demonstrations and pop-up yoga when Greg Willerer of Brother Nature Produce
approached them about hosting a weekday farmers market. This presented another opportunity to actively engage the community and activate the space. Vendors include Brother Nature (pick up some salad greens to take home or enjoy a fresh salad for lunch or dinner), Brooklyn Street Local, Food Field, Detroit Zen Center Café, and Detroit Bulk Company.
"It's really important to recognize the agricultural history in Detroit," says Meyer. "We would really like to encourage and inspire other corporations downtown to think about what they can do to be a good corporate citizen. We at Compuware are always eager to share the process we went through to encourage this to happen."
The Downtown Farmer's Market Detroit
is open Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Source: Gwen Meyer, Garden Coordinator
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg
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