Growing Their Own
While many Detroiters have left the city to make a living, others are moving to the city to make a life. In many cases it’s the land that is the attraction. For an urban farmer there may be no place better.
Paul Mungar and Sara Swor have transformed a few lots on a quiet east side street into a flourishing urban farm. They call their compound “Reclaim Detroit”. The goal is sustainability on a small urban property.
Sara told us, “There’s a lot of opportunity in Detroit. I moved from Ohio here and I just saw what potential was here.” When it comes to land, there are 40 square miles of opportunity. That’s how much land sits vacant in the city. Much of it is available at amazingly low prices.
Sara says their house cost $5000 and the lots were only $200 each. $200 is a weekly grocery bill for many families. Sara and Paul plan to feed their family and a few friends for a year from their garden.
Paul and Sara have a few chickens on their land. There’s a pond with aquatic plants and a few fish. And there are raised beds for all kinds of vegetables.
The couple took logs from downed trees, covered them with dirt and buried them in their beds. The logs will hold water for the plants and eventually turn into compost.
As the plants thrive, neighbors are taking note. Sara says, “People around here are so excited to see what we’re doing. It raised a sense of community pride.”
“Reclaim Detroit” is one of 15,000 gardens to receive help from The Greening of Detroit. President Rebecca Salminen Witt says, “We really see this as a once in a lifetime, maybe once in the lifetime of a city, opportunity to make a city unlike any other around the country, unlike any other around the world that’s really green and healthy and can support all of the people and places in the ecosystem in a way that’s going to make us all healthier.”
Sara works part time as a waitress. Paul does artistic carpentry. But the couple says their garden is what really supports them.