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Harvesting Hope - An Ann Arbor Man Is Creating A Diverse, World-Class Urban Farm

Aug 1, 2017

Melvin Parson in front of his Garden.
Credit Lisa Barry
Melvin Parson in front of his Garden.
Credit Lisa Barry

On the road to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, Melvin Parson inherited a small garden patch in Ann Arbor from a friend who had recently passed away.  That sparked his interest in agriculture.  As he looked into it, he noticed a lack of diversity in those selling and buying fresh produce inspiring him to one day create a world-class urban farm.

89-1 WEMU'S Lisa Barry met Melvin at his current garden location in Ypsilanti Township and shares his story…

Parson delivers some of his produce to Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor.
Credit Lisa Barry

Parson came up with the name “We The People Growers Association” and intends to one day create a world-class urban farm.

Emanual Tyus (right, helping unload produce) is the first employee hired by Parson.
Credit Lisa Barry

Parson, originally from Detroit, intends to hire a dozen or so employees who've been incarcerated in hopes of helping them the way farming has helped him.

Red Russian Kale ready for harvesting.
Credit Lisa Barry

He says there's a disconnect between fresh, affordable, healthy, organic food and who can afford to buy it or have access to it.

Produce ready to be harvested.
Credit Lisa Barry

He says he is grateful for all the community support he receives.  He has his eye on a larger piece of land about a mile from where he is currently located and hopes to continue to keep growing and supplying healthy organic produce to restaurants and markets in Washtenaw County.

Onions ready for harvesting.
Credit Lisa Barry

An errant onion in Parson's Ypsilanti Township garden.
Credit Lisa Barry

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu