The talk at the Northwest Detroit Farmers’ Market one Thursday was garlic scapes, the edible and delicious flower bud of the garlic plant. “They’re in? How wonderful!” one customer said when she saw the basket of green curls on the Greening of Detroit table. “Can you eat the whole thing?” another customer asked. Aaliyah Muhammad, Farm Coordinator of the Detroit Market Garden for Greening of Detroit, answered “Sure! Chop the whole thing and put it in anything that likes garlic: salads, rice, tuna even.” Romondo Woods, a second year apprentice with the Greening of Detroit added “They’re fresh out of the ground today! Combine them with olive oil, salt and pepper, or add them to pesto or soup.” As the customers gather, first year apprentice with Greening of Detroit Cynthia Oliver joins the group carrying a basket of kale. Garlic scapes have a short season, so for those who are familiar with their fresh, flavorful taste, garlic scapes are a real find. The produce “Greening” brings to our Market and other markets throughout the city is grown at the Detroit Market Garden, a 2.5 acre farm near Eastern Market. The produce grown at the other two farms “Greening” manages, the Romanowski Farm and the Lafayette Farm, is donated to churches, schools and shelters.

The Greening of Detroit also focuses on training, volunteerism, and employment. Aaliyah started with Greening two years ago as an apprentice before she was hired on as a Farm Coordinator. Aaliyah’s interest in farming is just about as old as she is. One day she’d love to own a farm of her own, “animals and all! I’m a city girl with country dreams.” Aaliyah has seen and believes in the power of gardening to bring family and community together. While she’s not in a rush, Aaliyah would one day “love to establish traditions in her own family that focus on the food grown, harvested and eaten together as a family.”

Romondo’s interest in farming also began when he was quite young. He remembers learning about how to make things grow by helping his grandmother tend her gardens. Romondo has his own raised beds now and he works with the kids in his neighborhood to decide as a group what they should plant. When the kids suggest bananas and lemons, that’s Romondo’s cue to teach the kids about climate differences. Like Aaliyah, Romondo believes in the power of having a hand in making things grow. He hopes to start another community garden in a different part of Detroit, and maybe even one day bringing his ideas about community and gardening to Mississippi or Florida.

Cynthia’s involvement with Greening is rather different than Aaliyah and Romondo’s. Cynthia is a nurse who needed to take some time away from nursing. She always enjoyed cutting her lawn, and has had an affinity for nature her whole life, but she “didn’t know a thing about gardening.” Greening offered her a way to learn about how things grow through its community classes, and Cynthia was hooked. She’s left nursing for the year to pursue gardening and feels pretty content with her decision.

The Greening of Detroit started as a tree planting initiative in 1989, but has since expanded its efforts to include restoring parks, developing community gardens, gardening classes, training, volunteerism, and employment. All these aspects are part of Greening’s mission to “provide a greener tomorrow for our Detroit.” Greening has planted many trees throughout Grandmont Rosedale, and we also benefit from the beautiful and delicious produce they sell at our Northwest Detroit Farmers’ Market each Thursday from 4 – 8 pm at the North Rosedale Park Community House, 18445 Scarsdale. Check out to find out more about Greening of Detroit.