Enlightened eating is a growing movement on Detroit’s lower eastside; literally. GenesisHOPE, the non-profit food ministry operating through Genesis Lutheran Church, located at 7200 Mack Avenue in Detroit, is birthplace and home to a multitude of interconnected programs focused on healthy eating and living; care for and stewardship of the environment, and the eradication of poverty through sustainable programs. Lofty goals to say the least, thanks to the passion and hard work of the various GenesisHOPE teams, this three-part mission isn’t as impossible as it may seem.
One of those GenesisHOPE teams is the Young Sprouts, operators of Islandview Farmers Market and SeedsGROW Farm, the garden farm, market and entrepreneur internship program. These young farmers are age 14 – 24 and are recruited from the surrounding neighborhoods.
Market Manager Noelle Frye came from Detroiters Working For Environmental Justice to work for GenesisHOPE. She is responsible for leading and teaching the Young Sprouts in securing vendors and entertainment for Islandview Farmers Market; setting up and running the market; performing community outreach; and generating ideas with the youth, among other responsibilities. The “food justice” aspect of the project is a driving passion for Frye.
“Not only are we educating people on how to eat healthy food, but this could turn into… future business ventures for our youth,” explains Frye.
“Being able to provide healthy food for all people, no matter where you live; no matter what ethnicity you are; no matter how much money you have… everybody should have access to healthy food,” Frye explained.
Program Coordinator, Deanna Lyons, feels it is important for the community to learn about gardening and the work being done by the young people operating the Islandview Farmers Market because, “It teaches younger kids to do better in life, where they can live a long, healthy life.”
Eating processed food is not really good for you. I feel we’re doing a good thing by selling non-processed food to the community,” she said. We’re trying to help the community and maybe in the future, help the world, if that’s possible.
Sharing her own feelings of personal growth gained through working with the project, she added, “We’re just a lot of loving people that just want to look out for everybody. We want people to live longer. And for the Young Sprouts, we want the young adults to basically learn how to work in a business, and come out of your shell, and not be stuck.”
Each Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. during the summer months, people of the community have the pleasure of coming together at the Islandview Farmers Market to enjoy live entertainment, mixing and mingling with one another and buying from the vendors including strong supporter Eastern Market. A major highlight is the Young Sprouts selling the produce they’ve grown in the church garden.
Averaging one-hundred attendees, and growing each week during the summer, not only does the program provide hands-on experience teaching young people to grow fresh produce, it also teaches them the business of bringing fresh produce to market. True to its mission of community service, Islandview Farmers Market also provides people of the community access to fresh food for free during days when the market is not open. They can actually come pick food they personally need from the garden.
Anyone coming upon this collection of intertwined operations for the first time could be awestruck by the many components to the vision, yet it wouldn’t take long to understand the synergy, the promise, and opportunity each piece of this puzzle affords the community to participate, be influenced, and benefit well into the future.