In the early 20th century, the American city of Detroit was a booming industrial powerhouse and world leader in automobile manufacturing. However, as the major car companies closed their factories, Detroit was left with more than 100 square kilometers of vacant land and nearly 40,000 abandoned houses.
A group of visionary residents then began sowing the seeds of an urban farming revolution. This empowered local communities by giving them access to job opportunities, education, and sustainable fresh produce. Sandwiched between diverging freeways and a few miles from the heart of Detroit’s downtown, the sprawling vegetable gardens were signs that the revolution was reaping a rich harvest.
Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA) has been a part of this sovereign food movement. This year, MANA’s involvement got a boost when Mahindra Urban Agriculture Grant Program 2018, in its fourth year, disbursed USD 127,000 in funding and equipment to eight Southeast Michigan nonprofits in Detroit. The funding was announced at Grant Celebration and Benefit Concert at Detroit's iconic Lafayette Greens.
“Mahindra is committed to empowering and celebrating the communities in which we operate,” says Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group. “There are few better examples of our Rise philosophy in action than the work Mahindra Automotive North America is doing in Detroit. MANA’s pioneering Urban Agriculture Grant Program continues to empower Detroit residents by giving them access to fresh, sustainable produce, and inspiring work opportunities for the underserved.”
This year’s recipients were: The Greening of Detroit—the largest tree-planting operation in Detroit for over 40 years, Eastern Market—a historic downtown Detroit farmer’s market that will now be using Mahindra vehicles to transport produce, and The Boggs Educational Center—a dynamic and diverse K-8 school that fosters student learning through, compassionate, and sustainable farming practices.
“It’s an honor to be affiliated with each of our urban agriculture grant recipients,” says Richard Haas, MANA’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Their services are truly making a difference and we couldn’t be prouder of the impact the company’s support is having on increasing accessibility to fresh, nutritious produce at affordable prices to residents throughout the city of Detroit and in Pontiac.”
Since the initiation of the program in 2015, Mahindra has donated more than USD 425,000 in cash and farm equipment to 13 nonprofits in support of sustainable farming and gardening in Detroit and Pontiac. Groups that have received Mahindra grants or equipment over the past three years have grown and distributed more than a million pounds of fresh food to Detroit residents. Mahindra grant funding has also been channelized for other purposes including installation of software that enables purchasers to use state-issued EBT cards and development of a prototype irrigation system for small gardeners.