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"There aren't many corporate entities supporting the urban farming community. Mahindra is one of few that are actually supporting the urban farmer and been supportive of work that we do."
— Jerry Ann Hebron, grant recipient from North End Christian Community Development Corporation - Oakland Avenue Farm.
Mahindra wants to drive positive change in the lives of stakeholders and communities in every area it operates in. Therefore, supporting urban agriculture in Detroit is a natural fit for the world's biggest tractor producer by volume.
The Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA) Urban Agricultural Grant Program was started in 2015. Since then, it has helped over a dozen communities and food programmes for the urban poor.
"We felt that concentrating our 2020 grant funds on strengthening the urban agriculture community's ability to grow and distribute food to people in need was one of the ways we could be of the most help during the pandemic," said Rick Haas, MANA's President and CEO.
This year's grant recipients will rise to — and meet — this new challenge and help improve the quality of life for hundreds, if not thousands, of people throughout this region. Eleven Southeast Michigan urban farming groups received $75,000 in funding this year from the programme. The grants address COVID-19's impact on locally available food supplies in inner-city areas in Detroit, Flint and Pontiac, especially for households facing the dual challenge of keeping family members healthy and putting wholesome food on their tables.
Emergency food distribution through COVID-19
"Through the support of MANA's urban farming initiative, we will be able to continue our emergency food distribution to the community that was disrupted because of COVID-19. The grants will help us to support 3000 families. Without MANA funding this would have been difficult to manage that capacity as we intend to feed people through the Fall," says Jerry Ann Hebron, a grant recipient from North End Christian Community Development Corporation - Oakland Avenue Farm.
Mahindra's Urban Agriculture efforts have resulted in food, employment and skilling
Since the programme's inception in 2015, MANA has donated more than $625,000 in cash and farm equipment to 20 unique community-based organisations in Southeast Michigan. Those grant funds have been used to train and equip thousands of home gardeners and block club associations who grow food for their families, friends and neighbours. The idea has been to turn abandoned properties in Detroit into working farms — thereby providing healthy produce, jobs and vocational training to under-served populations across the city.
The programme has resulted in over a million pounds of fresh produce that helps feed the poor and has helped build over 1,500 gardens on abandoned lots across Detroit.
MANA's grants in previous years also enabled innovative projects, like the development of a cost-saving home irrigation prototype; while others encouraged the preparation of the next generation of urban farmers for future careers and business opportunities. The company's donations have also included three off-road Mahindra vehicles (including two locally built Mahindra ROXORs) and three Mahindra tractors.
Mahindra grants given over the last four years are responsible for more than 1.5 million pounds of fresh food being grown by/for disadvantaged SE Michigan residents; the disbursement of over 100,000 seeds and seedlings to more than 1,500 individual gardens in the city of Detroit; building and creation of equipment sheds and community resource hubs; a prototype irrigation system designed for small gardens and gardeners; and funding gardening programmes for developmentally challenged adults. Mahindra has also donated three tractors and three off-road vehicles (including a ROXOR) to various groups including Detroit's historic Eastern Market to facilitate maintenance and vendor transportation.
Mahindra's role in Detroit's return to prosperity
Mahindra's global directive, 'Rise for Good', empowers local communities to 'Rise'. Detroit is very much a city on the rise once again, and Mahindra is honoured to play a part in its growth and return to prosperity. Through its Urban Agriculture Program, Mahindra has partnered in Detroit's rebirth by supporting the urban agricultural revolution, while at the same time exploring innovative ways to invest in the future of the agricultural industry.
Detroit is an excellent incubator for farms and gardens, and urban farms encourage entrepreneurialism, help workforce development by teaching employable skills and boost the city and region's economy.
"As a result of COVID-19, at Keep Growing Detroit, we have seen 20-30 percent participation in our garden resource plan. We are on track to service 1,900 - 2,000 gardens that feed over 30,000 people. We wouldn't have been able to step up our programming to provide the resources and support without Mahindra's support to meet the challenge," says Ashley Atkinson of Keep Growing Detroit.
"Now more than ever, we need to support Michigan's urban farmers who are growing healthy food for their communities," said US Senator Debbie Stabenow. "I applaud the commitment of Mahindra Automotive North America and all businesses and organisations who are strengthening urban farms in our state."
What are Mahindra's Urban Agriculture grants used for?
Farm and edible programmes
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