GREAT HARVEST: DTE Foundation Tree Grant

As technical assistant, Crow House wrote six (6) tree grants for community initiatives here in Detroit. They were all funded! This will allow us to plant 400-600 trees, depending on type and size, in areas we’ve identified with an initial inventory.

The overall strategy of these projects differs in critical ways from routine tree planting. Any native tree in the city is a good tree! But our overarching approach adds value in a few ways.

One, there is an overall strategy. We worked with groups which had either a shared geography and/or a shared mission in order to achieve maximum impact through coordinated tree planting initiatives. The bulk of the trees will go into Southwest Detroit, which has low tree canopy, a dense population, and high environmental contaminants – just where trees are needed most. Another area is in northeast Detroit, supporting a greenway which connects a school campus on Kelly Road with a community center and park in the Regent Park neighborhood. The partner community on the East Side of Detroit is focusing on sustainable regeneration of existing structures, and plans to use a robust tree line to create community continuity lines across a landscape which has been deeply impacted by demolition policy.

Two, we are using only fruit trees. Using a Ron Finley approach of reclaiming the commons by planting community assets – in this case, food producers and pollinator attractors – we are using planting to enrich communities on multiple levels. Another benefit is that where we plant trees, we will demonstrate swale/berm practices (green infrastructure) as another way to demonstrate permaculture methods which help our communities.

Three, planting food trees matters because we are using them to answer a question which is of concern here in Detroit. While there has been a drive toward urban ag, we know that Detroit has significant environmental contaminants. Some planters are soil testing, although expansion of this practice would be best. But we are not aware of any growers who are testing produce. It is not enough to say that a field was grown pesticide-free when it is laden with sulfur dioxide, lead or other airborne contaminants which make consumption of the plants contrary to healthful intention. By planting the fruit trees, residents benefit from the function of trees, but also create a control crop which we can regularly test for the intersection of air quality and food production.

This fall, we solidify our inventory needs to place an order for spring planting. I hope to see you on a volunteer day in April!!

$3,000 Harper Woods for Chandler Park Academy and Regent Park (Detroit)
$3,000 Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV)
$1,500 Chadsey-Condon Community Organization
$1,500 Crow House, Inc.
$1,500 UM SSW for Southwest Detroit Residents
$1,500 We Want Green, Too!

On behalf of Crow House and additionally in partnership with five other community organizations, we submitted tree grant proposals which could result in up to 600 fruit trees within the City of Detroit: two grants were for east side locations, and four for west side (Southwest) locations. When the grant determination has been made, an update will be posted!

Crow House selected the type of fruit trees based on zone hardiness and height, to accommodate the restrictions of various planting locations. Proposed areas were selected on the basis of low canopy cover and typically other considerations, such as a vegetative buffer. We will assist with procurement, planting and initial maintenance.

Depending on funding, our partners may include:

  • University of Michigan
  • Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV)
  • Chadsey-Condon Community Organization
  • We Want Green, Too!
  • City of Harper Woods/Chandler Park Academy/Regent Park neighborhood

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