In October 2020, Sanctuary Farms started with four vacant lots in Eastern Detroit. The lots were filled with trash after years of illegal dumping. After several days of waste pick up, volunteer crews have cleaned the land to use for growing and composting within an expanded site.
A variety of hearty greens are grown, also root vegetables, corn, and squash. Produce is sold at several farmers markets in Metro-Detroit including Eastern Market (Keep Growing Detroit’s Grown in Detroit), Jefferson Chalmers, Birmingham, and St. Clair Shores.
Co-founder Jøn Kent spent his early years in Detroit until the age of 12 when he relocated to LA to pursue his passion for acting. After his acting career, he shifted his focus towards education and enrolled at Santa Monica College (SMC). During his time at SMC, Jøn became an active participant in protests that aimed to highlight sustainability, environmental racism, and food injustice.
It was during these protests that he met Parker Jean, who was also a student government official at SMC. The two quickly became close friends, bonded by their shared passion for addressing the climate crisis and promoting localized gardening. Together, they organized an Earth Week event and invited Ron Finley as a keynote speaker. Despite both eventually attending different UCs, they remained in touch.
In 2018, Parker moved to Detroit to become a Challenge Detroit fellow, and later that year, Jøn also relocated back to Detroit. It was then that they began discussing their mutual interest in urban farming and composting. Their shared vision for ecological sustainability came to fruition in April 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and they started their venture in Detroit. With nothing to lose but time, Jøn and Parker embarked on their ecological journey in pursuit of their passion.
Skills you'll develop
- Permaculture: Permaculture is a farming practice that aims to create self-sufficient ecosystems through natural processes and sustainable methods, reducing human impact on the environment. An organic, no-till method of agriculture is a farming system is followed, working harmoniously with nature to replenish the soil with organic matter by layering it with mulch and compost each year. By doing this, weeds can be kept under control without disturbing the soil with tillage.
- Composting: Improving the soil by adding organic matter to it by adding compost that can be made on the farm. This is a great way to make your farm business more circular. Compost is made by mixing carbon, nitrogen, air and water OR green (manure, weeds, grass, veggies) and brown materials (stems, straw, woodchips, cardboard).
- Teamwork: Work within a group to achieve the maximum outcome for all, while meeting personal responsibilities within your role.
- Movement & Mobility: Able to use hands and fingers, kneel, crawl, stand, bend, reach, lift, climb and balance.