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Michigan Urban Farming Initiative

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to engage members of the Michigan community in sustainable agriculture. We believe that challenges unique to the Michigan community (e.g., vacant land, poor diet, nutritional illiteracy, and food insecurity) present a unique opportunity for community-supported agriculture. Using agriculture as a platform to promote education, sustainability, and community—while simultaneously reducing socioeconomic disparity—we hope to empower urban communities.

Results: Volunteering: Hosted over 2,500 volunteers on our site, who collectively put in over 20,000 hours (since our incorporation in March of 2012) Through effective community engagement, the non-profit has transitioned from a majority of our volunteers coming from the general South East Michigan area, to having a majority of volunteers coming from Detroit proper. Produce Production Produced over 10,000 lbs of organic produce in Detroit during our first year growing (2013) alone. I'm still working out our numbers, but a large percent of our produce is being used by individuals living within 1 square mile of our site using a suggested-donation model. Again, still working on the numbers, but several thousand pounds of our produce goes to local market stands and retailers. The remaining produce is donated to local shelters. Infrastructure Acquired 1 building, 4 houses, and approximately 5 aces of land in Detroit's North End community. Plans for the acquisition of 2 warehouses are in the works The MUFI Hustle MUFI employs social media platforms as it's primary form of fundraising, volunteer recruitment, community engagement, and educational programming. To date we have raised approximately $38,000 through corporate-sponsored social-media-based contests and public pitching events. Established active presence across all major social media platforms facebook, twitter, instagram, website, google +, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Wikipedia, Blogger. Awards Aveda "light-the-way" Holiday Fundraiser ($2.5k) Ford Blue Oval Scholars Community Challenge ($7k) Whole Foods Community Partnership ($2.5k) Nature's Path "Gardens for Good" Grant Competition ($15k) Optimize Social Innovation Challenge ($5k) 3rd place in the Do it For Detroit Micro-Grant Pitching Contest ($500) Edward Bagale “Different Makers” Award ($5k) University of Michigan-Dearborn "Difference Makers" (2013) University of Michigan-Dearborn Student Leadership Award in Service Learning (2013) President's "Call to Service" Award (2013)

Target demographics: increase access to healthy locally grown food

Direct beneficiaries per year: grow over 10,000lbs of organic produce right in Detroit!

Geographic areas served: Detroit's North End Community

Programs: Urban Farming, volunteering, educational programming

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came to The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative after not feeling fulfilled at another organization, even though the other organization does great work. The first day of volunteering at MUFI, an effort was made to make me feel welcome and to make the volunteering a personal experience. There was such a wide variety of tasks available that I was able to choose which task best fit my skill set, though I also felt comfortable trying new things.
Since the Spring of 2012, I have become a regular at MUFI. I would describe the feeling as a bit like the old TV show Cheers theme song. "Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, and their always glad you came..." As a person, I have grown and developed skills and knowledge to which I had not previously been exposed, and I have also found an activity which has filled a void in my life which is doing something where I am recognized for skills and strengths that there is no need for in my daily work or life. Here, those skills/strengths are appreciated and celebrated.
I strongly recommend trying this volunteer experience. In 2013, free yoga classes were donated each Saturday morning at 9AM to volunteers and community members who wished to participate. The classes were offered by a great partner, Shanti Yoga, from Royal Oak. These types of relationships and partnerships are what help to make MUFI a great and unique volunteer experience.