By Warren McLaren

DTE Energy previously came to our attention when we noticed that had a bunch of their power plants ‘wildlife certified’ by the Wildlife Habitat Council. Turns out they are still doing rather unusual stuff with those power stations.

Would you believe community gardens? Yep. DTE Energy have offered over 100 acres (40 hectares) of land to the Gleaners Community Food Bank for use as garden plots or allotments, so “one of the oldest food banks in the United States” can grow food to feed the hungry.

The land DTE have released is buffer property or property being held for future substation sites. And productive land it appears to be.
“In 2008, the two pilot gardens at the Auburn Hills and Plymouth Township substations yielded 5,304 pounds of produce.” But they are ramping that up for 2009 with eight DTE Energy Gardens set to increase the yield marketedly.

The people who volunteer to work the plots are drawn from farmers, community groups, religious institutions, schools, corporations, and individuals. Looking at the smiles in the photographs of the teams getting they hands dirty, it would seem they also benefit greatly.

Although we wonder about the health implications of working so close to high voltage electric power plants, this seems otherwise a fantastic model of business-community-charity co-operation. Three cheers to all involved.

Since 1977, Gleaners Community Food Bank has grown from distributing just one or two million pounds of food a year to more than 28 million pounds annually, equivalent to over 60,000 meals per day.


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