This time of year, Growing Hope’s hoop house is filled with trays and trays of bright green vegetable, herb, and flower seedlings. These small yet mighty plants represent months of winter farm planning and the promise of abundance in the year ahead.

Seedlings waiting to be delivered to our 2021 Home Vegetable Garden Program participants

Alongside the watering, repotting, and ensuring plenty of sunlight for each individual seedling, growing food is as much an act of hope as it is hard work. Hope is not something we cling to waiting and wondering; hope is the vision for a better future that sustains our everyday work of building a more equitable and sustainable local food system in Ypsilanti and beyond.

With your support, this past winter we harnessed our hope for racial equity in the food system by co-hosting a webinar, Land Justice for Black Farmers – A Local Perspective. Inspired by efforts in Detroit, we partnered with Willow Run Acres, Keep Growing Detroit, and three local Black farmers to elevate the dialogue about what can be done in Washtenaw County to increase farmland for Black farmers. Many of you joined the conversation and learned how land discrimination has contributed to the loss of over 90% of land owned by Black farmers in America since 1920.

With your contributions Growing Hope is committed to organizing community leaders to explore creating a funding mechanism for black farmers in Washtenaw County. Your support is an investment in this community partnership work. And, with a gift of $50, $250, or $1,000 your dollars will be matched by two long-term Growing Hope supporters.

Our Home Vegetable Garden program redistributes where and how food is accessed and grown in the community so that communities of color and lower-income families can eat and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables.

Home Vegetable Garden Program participant, Nakisha, selects seedllings for her home garden

Every year, our Home Vegetable Garden Program participants come to our urban farm to select free garden resources including seeds, seedlings, compost, and raised bed gardens. In April, over 50 families visited our farm to choose the vegetable seedlings they will grow in their own gardens. Many of these home gardeners return year after year to Growing Hope as they try new varieties and expand their gardens.

Your gift makes it possible for gardeners like Nakisha to sustain her garden. A donation of $50, $250, or $1,000 pays for the seeds, seedlings, compost and lumber to build the beds. These garden resources deepen and strengthen the network of home and community gardens throughout Ypsilanti.

As I engaged with our neighbors during a recent seedling distribution, I was once again reminded that we don’t just support our community with garden resources. Because of your sustained contributions, the Growing Hope Urban Farm is an inspiration for greater food sovereignty in Ypsilanti where people come together to share knowledge, learn new skills, and gain agency over their own healthy food choices.

Your gift of $50, $250, or $1,000 means the Growing Hope Urban Farm can become a voice for justice in our food system, and an instrument to help change the historical racial and economic inequities that remain to this day.

From seed to seedling to harvest, growing food is a process of transformation. Similarly, our Teen Leadership Program transforms Ypsilanti teens into community leaders. Our teens are paid to work in urban farming, seasonal cooking, and learn how to be advocates for food justice in their communities.

Fourth year Growing Hope Teen Leader, Amaria

Because of your gifts, we can continue to grow our teen program into a year-round, multi-year program that will bring 15 teens to Growing Hope this summer — our largest cohort ever. We will have new teens entering the summer session, as well as some who are continuing from prior years.

With your gift of $50, $250, or $1,000 you support teens like Amaria, who is in her fourth year of the program and is considering majoring in agriculture at Eastern Michigan to continue learning about sustainable farming. When you give today, your donation will be matched by two generous Growing Hope donors.

When the pandemic hit, your donations helped us convert our outdoor Ypsilanti farmers market into an online, no-contact pickup market. A year later, the Ypsi Area Online Market is still going strong, providing affordable, fresh food to our community while supporting 40 local farmers and food businesses. Farmers like Les from L.P. Stotz Farm in Monroe have gained new customers and increased sales from participating in the online market.

Long time Ypsilanti Farmers Markets vendor, Leslie Stotz of L.P. Stotz Farm increased sales from participating in our online market

Equity must remain at the core of our work, and we soon recognized the transition to an online market had created a barrier for some of our seniors to access fresh food. Your gift this year means we will ensure these lower-income seniors can fully participate in our farmers market through our new, free grocery delivery service to local senior living communities.

When you make a donation of $50, $250, or $1,000, Ypsilanti seniors will be able to overcome technology and mobility barriers to use their food assistance dollars to purchase fresh local produce.

Ensuring a more equitable food system requires hope, vision, and hard work. Your contributions mean Ypsilanti gardeners can leave our urban farm with trays of chard, tomatoes, and spinach — carrying home their own hope, the investment of hard work, and the promise of a more abundant future.

Thank you for your investment in a more equitable local food system.


Cynthia VanRenterghem

Executive Director

P.S. When you give $50, $250, or $1,000 your gift will be matched by two long-term Growing Hope supporters. Consider making a donation today to support Ypsilanti gardeners, farmers, and youth.