April 30, 2024

Seed Award Spotlight: City Commons Cooperative

In our “Seed Award Spotlight” series, we asked our inaugural Seed Award winners about their…


A group of six smiling adults stands outdoors in front of dried hydrangea bushes. Three people are in the front row and three in the back. The person on the far left wears an orange beanie, and those in the center wear glasses. A brick building is visible behind them.

Images of farmers involved in City Commons Cooperative of Detroit, Michigan, including Alice Bagley, Brittany Bradd, Donnie Jones, Molly Hubbell, Lis Thomas, Parker Jean, jon kent, Mark Fentress, Candi Fentress.In our “Seed Award Spotlight” series, we asked our inaugural Seed Award winners about their experience as a food or farm entrepreneur, including the passion behind their business, and what motivates them to do the work they do every day. In early 2024, 11 Seed Award winners were chosen to receive seed funding totaling almost $150,000, based on their businesses’ commitment to promoting racial equity, enhancing healthy food access, fostering job creation, and embracing resilient climate practices. 

One remarkable recipient of this year’s Seed Award is City Commons Cooperative, a collective of seven urban farms deeply rooted in Detroit. Formed in 2012, City Commons has grown to support 60-100 households annually, exemplifying dedication to food sovereignty and sustainable farming practices. The cooperative plans to use the Seed Award to enhance its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, furthering its mission to nurture a thriving, local food economy. 

Keep reading to learn more about City Commons Cooperative and the farmers championing sustainable agriculture in Detroit, including Alice Bagley, Brittany Bradd, Donnie Jones, Molly Hubbell, Lis Thomas, Parker Jean, jon kent, Mark Fentress, Candi Fentress.

What does being selected as a Seed Award winner mean to you personally, and how does it reflect on the journey of your business so far? 

City Commons has been operating as a cooperative for over a decade. We have always been pretty scrappy, but some challenges both business-wise and personally over the last few years have shown us that to continue to grow and prosper we need more support! This award represents us stepping into a place of building a more resilient and consistent business model. 

In what ways will the Seed Award funding support your immediate and long-term business goals? 

The biggest impact immediately from our SEED Award funding will be the ability to hire on an independent contractor to handle some of our administrative and logistical work. This will free us up to concentrate on growing food! We’ll also be able to improve the area where we pack the CSA boxes, improving our efficiency and keeping things cleaner. With all of this we’ll be able to expand the number of customers we sign up for the CSA and grow our business. 

Can you share your vision for the positive changes this award will enable you to make in your business and the broader community? 

This is going to allow us some breathing room to make our business a lot more sustainable. Growing vegetables is fill of enough natural turmoil and challenges, not to mention just all the different life challenges we have as humans. Having a stronger distribution for our CSA, and possible expanding into wholesale, will give us a little breathing room. 

What led you to start your business? What motivates you to do what you do? 

City Commons started because several of us had the shared vision of running small farms and doing so through a CSA program. Any one of us taking on a 20-week commitment like that would have been a struggle, but with several farms we are able to provide a better product to customers and distribute the work load. We are all highly commited to growing healthy food and healthy environments in Detroit, often in neighborhoods in need of both. 

Want to buy produce from the City Commons Collective? Visit their website to learn more about their CSA’s or view subscription options. Be sure to follow them on Facebook. 

Interested in working with the Michigan Good Food Fund? See if your business is a good fit here.    

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