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Detroit nonprofit part of $300 million federal effort to combat ‘food apartheid’

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(The Center Square) – Detroit will be among the beneficiaries of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $300 million effort to combat what they call “food apartheid.”

The USDA recently announced an investment of $300 million as part of President Joe Biden’s Increasing Land Access program to be divided between 50 projects. The collective goal is to increase land, capital, and market access for underserved producers.

The Detroit grants aim to subsidize projects that provide fresh locally grown produce to the community.

The Detroit nonprofit, Workin’ Rootz was established in July 2022 to provide funding for Black urban farmers in the Motor City.

According to the group’s website, Workin Roots “will work to increase access to land and capacity-building at five urban farms/community market gardens in Detroit which include Workin’ Roots Farm, Love n’ Labor, Foster Patch Community Garden, Love Earth Herbal, and Urban Bush Sistahs. These farms will serve as resource hubs by sharing infrastructure (tiller, lawn tractor, wash and pack, cooler storage, etc.) with other urban farmers and gardeners in their prospective neighborhoods.”

The website also states “Detroit is one of many cities declared a food desert. Studies show that the 5,000 residents of our community don’t have access to a grocery store within a 2-mile radius. This means that 5,000 people don’t have the option to eat healthy. To assist community members in adapting to a healthier lifestyle, Workin’ Roots is transforming empty residential lots into a farm to provide produce grown right in the heart of the community!”

The Workin’ Roots website asked, “What’s food apartheid? We’re glad you asked! The term ‘food apartheid’ was first used by farmer and food activist Karen Washington. This term encompasses the discriminatory racial, social, economical, geographical, political, and spiritual constructs of past and present that impact food access and control.”

Pictures found on their website show the current gardens to be the size of a small back yard.

When reaching out to the number on their website an unidentified woman answered. She declined answering questions about how the nonprofit planned to use the grant money.

The USDA did not respond to an email asking how much funding Workin’ Rootz received.

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