Developing Innovative Marketing Strategies and Distribution Networks for Hope Goods

Award Information
Department of Agriculture
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
1201 E GRAND BLVD, Detroit, MI, 48211
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator
 Michael Wimberley
 (313) 924-0085
Business Contact
 Michael Wimberley
Title: President
Phone: (313) 924-0085
Research Institution
Detroit was facing dire conditions well prior to the economic crisis currently faced by the rest of the nation. The city's median household income in 2007 was $29,109. Per capita income was $14,916 and median earnings for workers was $21,527. In May of 2009, when the nation reached the highest unemployment rate in 26 years (9.4%), unemployment in Detroit's metropolitan region was 16%. The unemployment rate within the city in that month was 24.7%. In July, it was reported to be 28.9% Following decades of depopulation and divestment, the city has over 100,000 vacant lots. Collectively these lots take up almost one third of the city's total land area (about 40 of approximately 132 square miles). Maintaining these lots, which often become targets for illegal garbage dumping and magnets for rodents and other pests, presents a major challenge for the cash-strapped city. Increasingly, however, vacant land is being converted for food production by residents who otherwise have very little access to fresh, wholesome foods (Gallagher, 2007). In fact, Dowie (2009) reported that the city has sufficient available land and labor resources to become the post-industrialized world's first 100% food self-sufficient city. The majority of these efforts to-date have been conducted by individuals or community-based organizations and non-profit agencies who produce food to help address the nutritional and health deficits among Detroit residents. Some also have the goal of restoring city lands to ecological health through organic and sustainable agricultural methods. Few, however, have simultaneously attempted to integrate economic or employment objectives into their organizational missions. Some small farms within the city have had success producing for sale within the neighborhood or at the city's Eastern Market (the nation's largest year-round urban farmer's market) or wholesale distribution to local restaurants, as the result of the growing influence of the local agriculture and slow foods movements. A much larger commercial enterprise has recently been proposed that would convert large tracts of Detroit's land for commercial agricultural production. While these efforts may demonstrate the market potential of urban farming in Detroit they do not typically emphasize broader job creation or seek to directly impact the ecological, health, social or economic challenges faced by their communities (although some do recognize impacts on these concerns as potential ancillary benefits of their activities). This project brings together for-profit, non-profit, agricultural and social science professionals to demonstrate that collaborative agricultural endeavors between community-based organizations and innovative small businesses can effectively, efficiently and profitably generate the full range of potential benefits of urban agriculture. These partnerships can create meaningful employment and business opportunities to foster individual and community economic independence while simultaneously improving ecological conditions, redressing nutritional and health deficits and contributing to community-building efforts.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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