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Wayne Co. FB opens dialogue with Detroit urban farmers

Wayne County Farm Bureau President Carl Graham and Young Farmer Chair Keion Jackson represented the organization at a March 8 meeting of urban farmers in Detroit.
Date Posted: March 27, 2024

President Carl Graham and Young Farmer Chair Keion Jackson represented Wayne County Farm Bureau at a meeting of urban farmers March 8 in Detroit. 

At the invitation of a Black growers’ cooperative representing dozens of urban farmers across the city, Graham and Jackson introduced their hosts to the Farm Bureau organization in a wide-ranging exchange about how the two groups might both benefit from joining forces.

“When it comes to urban farmers considering Farm Bureau membership, it means a lot,” Jackson said after the meeting. “Wayne County Farm Bureau understands the importance of urban farming. These farmers have a voice we’d like to hear — and help with the tools and resources we offer. 

“There are also many younger farmers involved in urban agriculture, and as a county Farm Bureau we’d like to involve and incorporate them.”

The meeting took place at Oakland Avenue Urban Farm in Detroit’s North End neighborhood.

As home of Michigan’s largest city, Wayne County Farm Bureau is poised to play a uniquely influential role welcoming and incorporating the needs of urban farmers into the larger organization.

“There are many urban farmers in our district, which gives us the opportunity to discuss our needs and concerns and questions,” Jackson said. 

“I believe Wayne County Farm Bureau is prepared to discuss the priorities and concerns urban farmers face. We’re open to meeting and networking with all those in agriculture — urban and rural alike.

A recurring theme throughout the meeting was how an organization traditionally geared toward serving rural farmers might adapt to serving those carving farms out of the built-up urban environment. 

“As farmers we share common ground in many aspects, and as an organization we have a great alliance as we believe it is important to discuss our issues and concerns — which is vital as a grassroots organization,” Jackson said.

“We consider our members as family.”

Joining the meeting remotely was Tepfirah Rushdan, the City of Detroit’s inaugural Director of Urban Agriculture, with whom Graham had already been in contact. 

Among the growers in the room was Willie Patmon, who runs WJP Urban Farms on the city’s east side — a well-established urban farm producing a variety of fresh produce and actively engaged in youth outreach programming very much in line with Farm Bureau Promotion & Education.

Near the end of the meeting Patmon asked Graham for a membership application.

“I’ve got one in my truck,” Graham responded.

Michigan Farm Bureau policy #37 asserts the organization’s support for urban agriculture, and its interest in protecting its practitioners’ interests in pursuing their interests in working the land. It reads, in part, “We support developing management practices unique to new and expanding urban agriculture, which includes livestock care standards, crops and cropping standards, and environmental protection standards… We support Michigan Farm Bureau’s continued collaboration with MDARD, Michigan State University Extension and other stakeholders to write a model local ordinance to promote protection of and guidelines for urban agriculture.”

Read the full policy here, or on page 53 of your 2024 MFB Policy Book.

Hannah Meyers headshot

Hannah Meyers

Southeast Regional Manager
[email protected]