This past July, as the coronavirus continued to wreak havoc on our neighborhoods and communities, I stepped onto the Growing Hope Urban Farm to say hello to our 12 Ypsilanti teen employees. Socially distanced and masked, they were learning how to harvest and wash produce that they would later deliver to Hope Clinic’s food pantry. They were focused and cheerful, ready to engage in their community and become future leaders.

I reflect on this moment with you to recall that during times of chaos and uncertainty there is always opportunity and hope for the future. One of our first-year teens, Allie, said it best:

“We are all part of a community, and every individual has an effect on it.”

2020 Summer Teen Program participant, Allie

Because of your contributions, Allie and her peers ended this summer not only with new gardening and cooking skills, but also learned how COVID-19 is increasing food insecurity in Ypsilanti and how, together as young people, they could indeed create a more just and equitable food community.

Your donation is crucial to ensuring our 2021 teen cohort continues to grow as community leaders, advocating for fresh, healthy food to be fairly distributed. A gift of $50, $250, or $1,000 will open doors for these teens to be the next generation of food system leaders. Donate Here

Growing Hope’s work is squarely rooted in our five core values: justice & equity, integrity, transformation, education, and placemaking. With you by our side, we leaned on these values to help guide our decisions during this tumultuous year. Since mid-March, we have been determined to use our resources and infrastructure to uplift our community.


Our Community Produce Cart supplies fresh flowers and produce during the growing season

In the spring, we shifted our farm production to grow more seedlings and fresh produce for donation. Your generous gifts helped distribute thousands of free vegetable seedlings to Ypsilanti community gardens, school gardens, and home gardeners. We donated hundreds of pounds of produce to Hope Clinic and Beautiful Gate Church food pantries to make sure healthy, fresh produce options were available to our community throughout the growing season.

Your gift of $50, $250, or $1,000 can help address food insecurity for hundreds more new gardeners and food pantry clients in 2021. You can be part of a community working together to ensure everyone has access to good, healthy food. Donate Here


Thanks to you, our neighbors have greater control over how they grow, access and prepare good food. Despite limiting visits to our farm this summer, we launched our Community Produce Cart and Sharing Garden to share vegetables and flowers and cultivate a deeper relationship with our closest neighbors.

With your contributions, low/no income Ypsilanti residents received free raised-bed home gardens as well as compost, seedlings, and guidance from a mentor. You helped expand our Home Vegetable Garden program from 25 to 45 households this year — many of whom faced mobility barriers or were homebound.

Ypsi teens and staff harvest food from the Growing Hope Urban Farm for local food pantries

Your continued contribution means that more residents can enjoy the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of home gardening, which are needed even more during this pandemic:

“With COVID-19, having fresh produce was awesome. It minimized the time needed to go to the grocery store. It was a pick-up to my mental health and nutrition. I had never done a raised garden before, and I could just go out and pick lettuce. I will definitely keep my garden next year.” – Home Vegetable Garden Participant

You strengthened the resiliency of our local food system by supporting small farmers and food producers. With your contributions, we launched the Ypsi Area Online Market to provide a low-contact method for our customers to have access to fresh, healthy food. This online market now supports nearly 40 local farmers and food makers across Washtenaw County:

“Our participation in the online market has allowed us to still reach customers even if we can’t be visible in the community at events. We have started to gain a following with our products and give big thanks to having this safe and well run online market.” – Ypsi Area Online Market Vendor

Farmers Market Assistant, Jazmin, loads an Ypsi Area Online Market order into a customer’s car for a low/no contact pick-up

Your gift of $50, $250, or $1,000 means the Ypsi Area Online Market can provide healthy, affordable food to even more people in 2021. Your donation allows lower-income residents to access our market through using food assistance programs like SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks. Donate Here

This year, you helped local food entrepreneurs access our licensed kitchen to jumpstart their business. Even during the pandemic, our Incubator Kitchen has been a resource for these small businesses. In the two years since opening our doors, we’ve licensed nearly 20 makers and have helped many of these businesses navigate permitting, marketing, and finding new retail outlets. Your contributions help these makers use their talents and creativity to launch and grow their own food businesses:


“The kitchen is a place to create opportunities for makers to expand their business and fulfill a much needed ingredient in taking their home businesses to the next level.”- Growing Hope Incubator Kitchen Maker

With your help, we can embark on a much needed kitchen remodel to expand prep space and add a walk-in cooler and freezer. Your gift of $50, $250, or $1,000 will create opportunities for more makers to use the expanded space and foster a thriving local food economy. Donate Here

Growing Hope Incubator Kitchen maker, Sean Brezzell of 24th Cheesecakerie

We all have a role to play to make the communities we care about better. I think again about Allie’s words: “We are all part of a community, and every individual has an effect on it.” Your continued commitment to Growing Hope means we can expose the inequities and disparities that have been baked into our current food system, and use our collective will to make profound and lasting change.

Times of historical upheaval open up opportunities for new thinking, creativity, and bold moves. Growing Hope is creating these opportunities. While we are still living through uncertainty and loss, it comforts me to know that the people most affected by inequities in our food system can count on you, our generous donor and supporter, to step up when it’s needed most.

Your donation of $50, $250, or $1,000 will help create a new local food system rooted in fairness and equity. I urge you to step up to this opportunity to create lasting change for our Ypsilanti community.

With much gratitude,

Cynthia VanRenterghem

Executive Director

P.S. Your donation of $50, $250, or $1,000 can transform an individual, a family, and an entire community. With your support, we can create a more just and equitable food system together.