Photo: Ruthie Abel<p>Gwen Meyer waters quickly as the summer sun rises over Labrosse Farm.</p>
Photo: Ruthie Abel

“Our garden is profitable, at least, spiritually!” Labrosse Farm founder Dawn DeMuyt pronounced, beaming. Local urban farming zealots like DeMuyt have made Corktown, Detroit’s oldest extant neighborhood, one of its most vibrant.

Established by Irish immigrants, though Native Americans and French settlers arrived long before, Corktown dates back to the 1830’s. West of downtown, the area has weathered dramatic ups and downs. Initially farmland, it burgeoned with industrialization in the early 1900’s but blistered with riots and economic hardship in the latter half of the century.

Today there are less than a handful of full-service supermarkets in Detroit, and many rely on gas stations for food provisions. Local access to fresh produce is transformative. In Corktown, devoted growers planting everything from organic mizuna to apricot trees are taking this storied neighborhood back to its agrarian roots while addressing food-scarcity.

Brother Nature Produce is one of the area’s longest-standing chemical-free urban farms. Founder Greg Willerer, a former schoolteacher, has grown herbs and salads in Corktown for ten years. “This is a salad farm,” he explained one morning while tending to Chinese baby cabbage. “We don’t do lettuce, it’s boring.”

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