Facilitating and Accelerating Food System Innovation in Detroit


Malik Yakini, Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, developing the coalition. (view larger image)

Malik Yakini, Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, developing the coalition.

By Renee V. Wallace, FoodPLUS | Detroit, Operations and Portfolio Director

The strong commitment and determination of Detroiters to develop new business opportunities, coupled with the availability of vacant land and buildings, creates ideal conditions for innovating sustainable development in the food system. In Detroit today, there are many efforts to address the city’s food, agriculture and related resource needs and challenges. Intentional and strategic connection of these efforts will help link and leverage common work, knowledge and resources to facilitate development of the innovative solutions needed to address our complex social, economic and environmental challenges.

FoodPLUS|Detroit, a networked coalition, was established to enhance that connectedness.  Increasing opportunities for collaborative, collective work will set the stage for the emergence of innovative models embodying trends for sustainable production. More innovative efforts will help promote livelihoods through business and job creation in the emerging food and agriculture economy which will result in

1) transformation of the metropolitan area by reducing blight and abandonment through the conversion of vacant properties and brownfields into productive agricultural assets,

2) improved access to high-quality, healthy food and

3) increased food security and food sovereignty. 

FoodPLUS|Detroit’s mission is to facilitate and accelerate development of a food system that is socially just, resource efficient, economically prosperous and globally connected.  The vision is for a metropolitan food system that produces, processes and distributes food that is abundant, safe, healthy, affordable and accessible, while conserving energy, water and soil, opening economic opportunities for many and enhancing diversity and social justice in the community.

A diagram depicting the organization of the workgroups  involved in FoodPLUS | Detroit. Photo courtesy of foodplusdetroit.org

A diagram depicting the organization of FoodPLUS Detroit’s workgroups.

Image courtesy foodplusdetriot.org

The work is project-based and is a coherent and strategic integration of multi-stakeholder engagement and co-creation, participatory research and action learning, knowledge and resource sharing, innovation in urban food systems and productivity supported by a technology-enabled platform. The organization provides the approach, support, and services to engage in, foster projects, connect people, and provide resources to facilitate implementation of ideas and strategies like those in the long-term plan of the “Detroit Future City” framework, as well as those developed through the City’s community-based planning process. 

Ultimately, FoodPLUS|Detroit is working to build a “go to network” that provides tangible support for the continued development of Metropolitan Detroit’s food system. 

For more information please visit http://foodplusdetroit.org