Detroit Stories Episode 58: 'Cultivating Soil, Cultivating Souls' (PODCAST)

Since 1998, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen's Earthworks Urban Farm has been an oasis in the midst of Detroit's food desert

(0:06): The narrator talks about the history of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s Earthworks Urban Farm, which was started in 1998 by Bro. Rick Samyn, OFM Cap., to provide Detroiters fresh food, a sense of purpose and a chance to cultivate the earth in the heart of the city.

(2:12): Wendy Casey, Earthworks’ director, talks about the farm’s mission, which includes a greenhouse, almost an acre of growing space, compost and educational programs, all of which benefit the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

(3:30): Bro. Gary Wegner, OFM Cap., the soup kitchen’s director, discusses the origins of the idea behind the farm, which produces more than 8,000 pounds of food each year in Detroit, which has been considered a "food desert" for its lack of grocery options. Bro. Wegner talks about how the farm follows the example of the Capuchins’ founder, St. Francis of Assisi.

(5:56): Tyler Chatman, the farm manager, talks about Earthworks’ robust volunteer program, Earthworks Agriculture Training — or EAT, for short. The program trains up to 10 people each year with the skills they need to cultivate the land. One of EAT’s first students was Casey, Earthworks’ current director.

(9:23): Chatman talks about growing up on the farm. He first experienced Earthworks as a 6-year-old, and has been volunteering for the past 20 years. According to Chatman, it helped keep him out of trouble.

(11:37): Chatman discusses Earthworks’ “open door policy,” saying the farm embraces passersby who happen to stop by. Often, these passersby become volunteers themselves, Chatman says, inspired by the little miracle of growth happening on Detroit’s east side.

(15:05): Casey and Bro. Wegner talk about how Earthworks is a metaphor for Detroit’s resilience. Since its heyday in the 1960s, Detroit’s sprawling urban landscape with 2 million people has been reduced to just over 600,000, meaning the city is replete with empty lots and tons of potential.

Reporting by Daniel Meloy; narration by Emily Mentock; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

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