Georgia Street Community Collective – Part of Detroit’s east side food system
A community service organization becomes an important part of the neighborhood’s food system.
When Mark Covington started cleaning up the vacant lots surrounding his home on Georgia Street near Gratiot and I-94 on the east side of Detroit, he found out there was a need for fresh food. So in April 2008, Mark Covington started the Georgia Street Community Gardens and cultivated a large variety of vegetables. Mark wanted the gardens to be free and open, and encouraged people to pick and eat the food that grew there. He wanted it to be a true community garden, where no one had to ask for food and where there was no shame in being hungry.
Kids flocked to the gardens that summer and Mark was so successful in his efforts that he began receiving donations to work with the neighborhood children in the garden. Primarily to deal with the donations, Mark started the Georgia Street Community Collective in November 2008, and it became a non-profit in March 2009.
Now Mark says that the Georgia Street Community Collective (GSCC) functions as a neighborhood service organization and the gardens have grown to include a neighborhood orchard and several chickens that provide fresh eggs. GSCC also serves soup and chili to those in need every Saturday, along with donating a holiday dinner every December, having annual school supply and coat giveaways and participating with Michigan State University Extension in a garden education program at A. L. Holmes, the elementary school down the street. Additionally, GSCC supplies the neighborhood with a library and computer lab in addition to holding an after-school program.
What started as a garden has become an important part of the neighborhood’s food system, with people depending on the food produced and donated by GSCC. Additionally, neighborhood children have learned where their food comes from, gaining important knowledge about their world and their health.