Upon arrival at the farm, I came to notice a few things quickly: it was much larger than I expected and it needed a lot more work than I thought. Based on the Google Hangouts interview and the fairly brief research I did, I expected the work to be mainly centered around volunteer coordination and community outreach and, after today, that seems not to be the case. As it turns out, the “farm” is actually much more than simply farming, MUFI (Michigan Urban Farming initiative) actually only dedicates roughly one-third of its 3 acres to production farming. The other two-thirds of Mufi is divided in half between hardscape spaces (e.g., buildings, structures, etc.) and interactive agriculture. My work on this first day (and likely the next few) was dedicated almost entirely to the third of the farm I didn’t even know was part of the internship: hardscape spaces.
The building above was our main area of focus. This is what MUFI refers to as the “Mural Building” for fairly obvious reasons. The building has plans to be developed into a community resource center having an administrative space, a multi-purpose space, a packaging kitchen (for in particular novelty hot sauces), and a marketplace, all of which will be done in partnership with BASF.
My particular work on the building is with getting it in compliance with vacancy laws of Detroit, in particular, fixing window covers which were put back improperly, broken, or entirely misplaced after the building was cleared for Asbestos. Today we managed to remove most of the front side of the building’s covers (those seen in the picture above), cut new boards to size where needed, paint them (this is to avoid weathering), and screw them to the outside of the frames. The work was much different than I expected and I likely would have been upset about it had I not had prior experience with woodworking and using power tools; luckily, I did, and, due to the slightly rainy weather, I actually much rathered working with tools fixing the mural building than working in the increasingly muddy fields. All in all, my first day was much different than I expected, but, it was certainly a pleasant surprise.