Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum was named one of seven botanic gardens to receive support to build capacity and leadership inTwo people standing in a garden plot surrounded by tall plants urban agriculture through a partnership of the United States Botanic Garden (USBG), the American Public Gardens Association (Association), and Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG). The Urban Agriculture Resilience Program Capstone program will award each garden $50,000 along with one-on-one mentoring support to sustain and institutionalize each garden’s urban agriculture work.

Campus Farm Program Manager, Jeremy Moghtader, explains the importance of this award: “This generous support from the APGA, US Botanical Gardens, and Windy City Harvest at Chicago Botanical Gardens will allow the farm along with its key on-campus collaborator UM Sustainable Food Systems Initiative to continue to co-lead the urban agriculture internship program with community partners in Ypsilanti and Detroit and increase the impact of the critically important work they do.  With a focus on capacity building the award will not only help support UM student internships working on food access and justice issues with our partners D-Town Farm, Oakland Ave Urban Farm, Cadillac Urban Gardens, and Growing Hope in the summer of 2023, but it will also support the continued development of the emerging community of practice among our organizations and further the development of program elements with mentorship and  assistance opportunities provided by Windy City Harvest as part of the new cohort-based model for the Urban Ag Resilience Program.”

The Urban Agriculture Internship Program is an initiative that expands the impact of Campus Farm and SFSI across the region.  Driven by the needs of the community, this program works to increase food security in Southeast Michigan by building the capacity of partnering organizations and helping to create future leaders who are well-versed in sustainable agriculture and urban farming, as well as advocates for food justice, access, and equity. 

To achieve this, Campus Farm collaborates with five community organizations in Metro Detroit – Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, D-Town Farm, Cadillac Urban Gardens, Keep Growing Detroit, and Growing Hope.  Each of these partner organizations engages in critical work to increase food security within their communities and these partnerships allow for community-specific outcomes, driven by the needs and desires of the people in these communities. 

The most unique and rewarding aspects of the Urban Agriculture Internship Program are the multi-level impacts it helps create: Community produce distribution programs, farm stands, and farm markets help to improve food access, while food sovereignty is promoted through efforts like transplant distributions, technical assistance, home garden installations, and youth educational programming.  Through this collaborative, community-focused approach, the program is able to support lasting changes in food equity, access, and justice.

“We are excited to collaborate with USBG and the Association to support the recipients of the Capstone awards,” said Kelly Larsen, Associate Vice President of Community Engagement for Windy City Harvest, Chicago Botanic Garden. “It is critical that public gardens continue taking the lead to support place based, collaborative urban agriculture solutions that grow the next generation of farmers and food system leaders. Urban agriculture programming, focused on partnerships, provides accessible job training opportunities for local communities to grow equitable food access, employment opportunities, community health and local food system economies.”

The Urban Agriculture Resilience Program began in 2020 as a way for the USBG and the Association to assist public gardens to continue urban agriculture and food growing programs facing funding and capacity challenges due to COVID-19. The program was expanded in 2021 and 2022 to support community engagement in urban agriculture education and food growing through collaborations between public gardens and local community organizations. Since its inception, the program has provided financial awards to 80 urban agriculture projects in 30 states and Washington, D.C.

The USBG and CBG have collaborated for five years to build capacity in urban agriculture at public gardens and partner organizations through development of an Urban Agriculture Toolkit and related trainings online and in person around the country.

Learn more about previous awardees at