A new facility in Detroit will become Michigan State University’s first center for studying and developing urban food systems.
Drawing on experience from MSU’s 13 rural AgBioResearch field stations and MSU Extension work in every county of Michigan, the MSU/Detroit Center for Urban Food Systems will facilitate best practices for food and non-food plant production and a variety of related community support activities.
“The food systems center reflects Michigan State’s commitment to the people of Detroit and drive to bring our pioneering work in food systems into the urban environment,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said.
A proposed Detroit neighborhood site is under consideration and will be announced once land use review and community outreach are completed. Michigan State has earmarked $300,000 to launch the project and anticipates ongoing support from state and federal sources.
MSU currently has 59 full-time Extension staff in Detroit and Wayne County in five offices, and will staff the proposed center as program needs dictate. Staff will work with residents to optimize plant health and productivity, handle land contamination issues and connect entrepreneurs with markets and networks.
Research areas envisioned for the center include soil sampling and pollution remediation, pest and disease management, urban forestry, indoor growing systems and community food systems development. Extension program expansion might include nutrition education and partnerships with schools and community groups; family enhancement such as early childhood development, healthy relationships and financial literacy; youth 4-H clubs focused on science literacy, entrepreneurship, civic engagement and conflict resolution; and business development led by the MSU Product Center.