Community garden cultivates local leaders in southwest Detroit

Detroit — Cadillac Urban Gardens has been a godsend to southwest Detroit since opening in 2012.

In the past decade, it has provided produce for residents, attracted 60,000 hours of volunteer work and repurposed 331 shipping containers as raised beds for fruits and vegetables.

Andrea Mendez helps supervise interns and volunteers at the garden. She plans to study food science at Michigan State to increase access to healthy food.

The urban garden also has helped local youths to become community leaders.

Youths like Yahir Hernandez, who was 15 and looking for a summer job when he was hired by the gardens in 2018. After planting and harvesting plants, he returned the next summer as a field supervisor.

He engaged with people by managing volunteers and giving garden tours. He also led a team performing air quality research.

Hernandez, now 19, is a sophomore at Michigan State University, where he studies biosystems engineering.

“They focus on helping the world in the environmental aspect while helping community members at the same time,” he said. “There’s definitely a

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