The painted wooden stairs are chipped, leading upward to a flat rooftop three stories high. The wind blows in strong gusts up here as verdant rows of vegetables and flowers flutter in the dark soil below. On the horizon, the art deco Fisher Building shimmers in the setting sun — a striking reminder that this bucolic scene is in the heart of downtown Detroit.
Tyson Gersh, BA ’13, surveys the surroundings from his vantage point atop the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative’s headquarters. An apartment house dating to 1915, the building was abandoned in 2009. Today its brick exterior is painted with colorful murals — mostly plants and Motor City icons. As renovations toward LEED certification move forward, MUFI co-founder/president Gersh envisions a community resource center with administrative and multipurpose spaces, a marketplace, and a production/packaging kitchen.
He is cultivating much more than a self-contained urban farm on Detroit’s North End. He hopes to grow a thriving “agrihood” that extends far beyond the initiative’s three acres.