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MUFI launches campaign to create a sustainable urban agrihood

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Michelle & Chris Gerard

A few months ago, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) revealed its plans for the first sustainable urban agrihood in the North End. MUFI already runs a successful farm and orchard, and the agrihood plans call for renovating a three-story building into a community center and putting agriculture as the centerpiece in a mixed-use development.

Today, MUFI, in conjunction with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has kicked off a campaign through Patronicity to raise funds for the renovation. The building will be a community gathering space and offer educational, nutritional, and other programs. It will also have a commercial kitchen.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by Sunday, April 2, the project will receive a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program.

BorgWarner out of Auburn Hills started the campaign with a $10,000 donation.

In addition to the community center, the nonprofit’s urban agrihood also includes a two-acre urban farm, 200-tree fruit orchard, children’s sensory garden, water harvesting cistern, and more. In the works are plans to restore a house for student intern housing and building a two-bedroom shipping container home.

MUFI grows more than 300 produce varieties annually. The vegetables are provided for free to about 2,000 households, churches, food pantries and others within two-square miles of the farm. MUFI also has plans for a new healthy food cafe located next to the community center.

The Public Spaces Community Places program is a collaboration between the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity, in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC.