Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s urban farm to host open house

By: Brendan Losinski, | Advertiser Times | Published November 30, 2016

DETROIT — The Earthworks Urban Farm, which is run by the Capuchin Soup Kitchen of Detroit, will be having an open house to show the community what it does, why it does it and how it helps people.

An urban farm is a farm that is located within a highly populated city. The Earthworks Urban Farm was founded in 1987 and produces fresh, locally sourced food, and much of it goes to Detroit’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen and those the kitchen helps.

The open house will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, to Friday, Dec. 16. The event was organized to show how the farm performs its tasks, as well as the other benefits it provides for the community.

“It’s an outreach event. It’s a way to interact with people who support our work here, who are interested in urban farming, and those who want to see how it works,” said Shane Bernardo, Earthworks outreach coordinator. “They can purchase products, get to know the people who do all of the work here and see what kind of difference a site like this can make for people.”

People also will be able to buy products from the farm during the tours, including fresh produce, jams, herbal tea and beauty products.

“We have 2 and a half acres of organic farmland where we grow vegetables for the soup kitchen. We also run a fresh food market, we transplant plants into people’s gardens, and we work with schools to teach them about nutrition and agriculture,” said Earthworks Site Manager Patrick Crouch. “Buying locally produced and grown products help build strong communities. Purchases made at the Earthworks Holiday Open House help support the work of Earthworks and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and the young people and adults that benefit from nutrition education, youth development, and community-and food-based entrepreneurship. Earthworks’ goal is to help build leadership and ownership of the local food system.”

The Earthworks Urban Farm is one of six different programs run by the Capuchins in Detroit; the others include the two meal program locations, child tutoring programs, the emergency services program and the Jefferson House for indigent men.

The Earthworks farm was designed from the ground up to help people — not only those who benefit from eating the food, but those who can benefit from growing it and supporting the farm.

“We want to get people to rethink growing food and rekindle relationships through reconnecting ourselves to our agrarian roots,” said Crouch. “A farm like this also can show us how we can relate to one another by making a local gathering place in the community, and provide people with a space where they can work and interact with each other outside of the home or workplace.”

Crouch said there has been a lot of interest in urban farming in recent years as an alternate use for unused space in highly populated areas. Although the interest is new, he also said the roots of urban farming are not.

“Since French settlers started the city, there were farms,” said Crouch. “In the 1880s, there was a big push for agriculture in cities such as Detroit to combat food shortages; there were victory gardens during World War I and World War II so people had more food to eat; and people have had their own personal gardens for years just to cut down on grocery bills.”

The farm staff is hoping to not only show people how the farm works, but also demonstrate how businesses and institutions — and their customers and patrons — can make real differences in a region. 

“I hope people can see through this open house how their spending habits during the holidays can be an expression of their morals,” said Bernardo. 

More information on the Earthworks Urban Farm or the Holiday Open House can be found by calling (313) 579-2100, ext. 204, or by going to www.earthworksdetroit.org.