Seed Award Spotlight: Sanctuary Farms

 jøn kent of Sanctuary Farms in Detroit, MichiganIn 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. 
Among these deserving winners is Sanctuary Farms, an organic farm in Detroit’s lower east side that has transformed city blocks into an urban oasis, providing fresh, affordable produce to the community. Established just two years ago by jøn kent, Sanctuary Farms has made a significant impact by closing the food loop through its nutrient-rich compost and sustainable farming practices. This recent funding will enable Sanctuary Farms to connect to the municipal water system, bolstering its ability to grow nutritious food and enhance self-sufficiency. Keep reading to learn more about Sanctuary Farms and its impact on or home city. 


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? 

Being selected as a Seed Award winner is deeply meaningful to me and the Sanctuary Farms team. It validates the relentless dedication we’ve poured into our mission and serves as a tangible affirmation of our vision for positive change. This recognition underscores the significance of our journey so far, acknowledging the countless hours of hard work and commitment we’ve invested in closing the food in Riverbend. Winning this award is not only a validation of past achievements but also a powerful motivation to continue pushing boundaries and effecting meaningful change. It inspires us to dream bigger and work even harder as change agents within our community and beyond, driving us to strive for greater impact in the future. 

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

The Seed Award funding will significantly support both our immediate and long-term business goals at Sanctuary Farms, primarily by providing access to water through tapping into the municipal water line. This investment is crucial for efficiently watering our crops, ensuring their health and vitality, while also facilitating the expansion of our offerings and the hosting of events. With direct access to water, we can enhance crop quality, attract more customers, and increase revenue streams. Additionally, it enables us to host educational workshops, community gatherings, and farm-to-table dinners, fostering deeper engagement with the local community., This funding will ultimately empowers us to improve operations and lay a strong foundation for sustainable growth. 

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

Receiving the Seed Award marks a pivotal moment for Sanctuary Farms, not just in terms of immediate impact but also for our broader vision of positive change within our business and the wider community. While the funding primarily provides us with crucial water access, its significance extends far beyond the surface. This grant serves as a stepping stone toward our larger pursuit of food sovereignty in our neighborhood. With water access secured, we’re empowered to enhance crop cultivation, diversify offerings, and ultimately contribute to a more resilient and sustainable local food system. Moreover, water access plays a pivotal role in cultivating an atmosphere where people can connect with nature. Our vision extends beyond mere farming; we aim to create a space where individuals are drawn to the farm to experience the tranquility of nature, engage in community events, and learn about sustainable living practices. This award fuels our commitment to fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment within our community, setting the stage for meaningful and lasting positive change. 

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

The decision to start Sanctuary Farms was driven by a deep-seated sense of social and civic responsibility, both to our original ancestor, the Earth, and to the communities we come from. Personally, along with the dedicated team I work with, I believe we have a duty to nurture and sustain the environment that sustains us. This ethos stems from a recognition of the interconnectedness of all life and the imperative to protect and honor our planet. Furthermore, as a Black Detroiter, I am motivated by a desire to demonstrate to others in my community that collective action can drive meaningful change. By cultivating our neighborhoods and fostering a culture of cooperation and empowerment, we can create the vibrant and resilient communities we envision. I am deeply grateful for the guidance and knowledge they have bestowed upon me, and I am committed to honoring their legacy by applying these principles in my partnership with Sanctuary Farms. Together with my team, I strive to model the wisdom and values imparted to me, working collaboratively to cultivate a sustainable future for both our environment and our communities. This sense of purpose and commitment to community empowerment serves as the driving force behind everything we do at Sanctuary Farms. 


Want to visit Sanctuary Farms? Visit their website to find their volunteer hours location or their next compost sale. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.