Plum Street Garden Market, Detroit MI


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YEAR: 2009
TYPE OF SYSTEM: Geoponic Raised Beds
CLIMATE: Continental Humid
AREA: 1.8 Acres
 5 Tons/Yr
SCALE: Block Scale
Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Various Types of Onions, Potatoes, Strawberries



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Case Study Background:

The current site of Plum Street Market was bought by MGM Grand from DTE Energy and is being maintained and run by Keep Growing Detroit. The process took over 5 years to implement, beginning in 2008 with MGM approaching Keep Growing Detroit till 2013 when the first yield of crops was produced. For more information about KGD follow the link. Decades ago, the lot had been site of horse stables and later a gas station.  It will eventually include bee keeping, berms with fruit trees and training program for both children and adults interested in growing food inside the city. The cost of the Plum Street Market is roughly $600,000 paid for by MGM Grand.

The system is a block that is 1.8 Acres. The system produces 5 Tons/Yr of fresh produce but also sells seeds and transplants that equates up to 200 Tons/Yr when grown by farmers that Plum Street Market sells to local farmers. Seeds and Transplants provide up to 1,400 farmers + gardeners in the city through the Keep Growing Detroit’s Garden program.  Food grown ends up being sold at locations across the city in Eastern Market + directly to local restaurants.  All proceeds are reinvested into garden + other community-based training programs.

Beginning in 2008 a partnership began between MGM Grand and Keep Growing Detroit, unsure of the true nature of the partnership, MGM Grand Detroit COE and President Steve Zanella says the garden is an investment in a healthy future for Detroit. “This project is part of our responsibility as good neighbors in Detroit. This is great to support people being able to grow their own food and build a sustainable community. Whatever the true reason, this investment to the city, is well needed and is a spring board for education and healthier food options to Detroiters.


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Benefits of Plum Street Market includes 2 hour classes which make up 60-80 community classes throughout the year.  Goals of Plum Street Garden Market are to produce 400,000 transplants a year. The site has a 60-90 foot greenhouse to supply produce during the winter months.


As far as implications the Geoponic raised bed system is a year round operation and during the winter months has a 60-by-96-foot greenhouse to supply during the colder months. This means that there would be limited produce but the overall goal of the Plum Street Market is for seeds and transplants. “This project supports our mission of promoting food sovereignty in the city,” said Ashley Atkinson, co-director of Keep Growing Detroit. “Our goal is to have the majority of the fruits and vegetables Detroiters consume grown within the city limits. Food grown for Detroiters, by Detroiters.” There are no other negative implications to the project since the land is owned by MGM Grand there is no problems with ownership issues. Of course, there are many positive implications to the Plum Street Garden Market, which includes healthy, fresh produce for local Detroiters and educational classes for Detroiters interested in knowing how to garden or to learn new skills.


There were no significant policies in place that would benefit the garden, but fits into the former mayors vision of a greener Detroit. George Jackson, president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., said the garden fits into Mayor Dave Bing’s plans to nurture a greener, more environmentally sustainable city.


Stakeholders in this process is that MGM invested more than $600,000 in the project to date (July 2014). 

Steve Zanella added even MGM employees (team members) get involved.

“Each week on Tuesday, our team members can come out and learn how to garden and actually help,” he says. “We are happy with what we have done here so far. As a part of a health employee program, Zanella has arranged for a weekly fresh food market at MGM for team members through Wellness Coaches USA. A Detroit Eastern Market Farm Stand at the facility on Thursdays is one of the largest corporate farm stands in the city and sells out nearly every week.

As far of the partnership, Keep Growing Detroit runs and maintains the gardens providing all the educational classes and support to keep the Plum Street Garden Market up and running.

KGD Logo Vector  MGMGrand_Detroit1

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If you are interested in knowing more about Keep Growing Detroit and the annual numbers from 2014 follow my link. Detailed is the numbers of the yields of the local farms in Detroit and more information about the Garden Resource Program previously mentioned.


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