National Recognition for Outstanding Detroiters

11/1/2012

Ashley Atkinson, Director of Urban Agriculture and Open Space with the Greening of Detroit. Photo courtesy of Patty Cantrell. (view larger image)

Ashley Atkinson, Director of Urban Agriculture and Open Space with the Greening of Detroit. Photo courtesy of Patty Cantrell.

Two grassroots leaders of Detroit’s Good Food movement recently received prestigious national recognition for their innovative, inclusive and inspiring work.

In October, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted to health and health care, named 10 young leaders under 40 for exceptional contributions to the health of the nation. On the foundation’s first-ever list is Detroit’s own Ashley Atkinson, Director of Urban Agriculture and Open Space with the Greening of Detroit.

Atkinson has worked with local residents, staff and partners over the past decade to build food access, justice, and sovereignty. Together they have grown a city network of family, community, school, and market gardens from less than 100 to, now, more than 1,400. Greening of Detroit and partners also operate a number of model urban farms and education programs, including a new three-acre urban agriculture demonstration farm in the Detroit Eastern Market district.

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

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

Also in October, the James Beard Foundation (JBF) honored Malik Yakini, Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN), as one of its five national Leadership Award winners. The JBF Leadership Awards celebrate visionaries in the pressing and interrelated fields of sustainability, food access, and public health.

Yakini brings his lifelong work for social justice and community empowerment to Detroit’s food system through his leadership of the DBCFSN. The organization played a lead role in writing the city of Detroit’s food security policy and establishing the Detroit Food Policy Council. DBCFSN has also developed the Seven acre D-Town urban farm in a city park on the Rouge River and the Ujamaa Food Co-op, a monthly buying club that is set to open as a full-service retail store within the next two years.