City Wheat, Hamtramck
About the Project
The site is two vacant lots owned by the city of Hamtramck that have not been occupied for a number of years. I received a Garden Permit from the city's Community and Economic Development department for using the land. The two lots are primarily grass separated by a row of shrubs and flanked by single family homes. Whalen Street, where the site is located, is a quiet and pedestrian friendly street with many similarities to an alley and not much traffic.
The city lots will be the grounds for growing grains, specifically wheat to start and eventually barley and oats. The product gleaned will be whole grains for milling and baking as well as starter seeds for backyard and community gardens.
Grains are a great compliment to a community that takes pride in it's growing. Wheat is an unusual plant to consider, but it's uniqueness is perfect for starting a process that hasn't been explored much but can contribute so much to the green movement. To have a wheat field means having whole grains for milling into flour and baking, an original contribution to the staples of a farmer's market. The seeds are resilient, the plants don't demand much maintenance during growing, the field is aesthetically pleasing, the yield of seeds from one plant is extraordinary, and the ritual of gleaning is one of the most ancient agricultural processes. The field will build curiosity, allowing others to discover what it takes to get a loaf of bread. A wheat field is a terrific symbol of Michigan's growing history, and to bring the experience to an urban location will bring a new appreciation of the crop to local growers, which could result in great teaching opportunities and "field trips." The plant has such a complete process, where even the byproduct from the growing season produces hay that could be a beneficial mulch for other community gardens, or if enough is grown the possibility for modest haybale construction projects. Most of all the endurance of the seed, the wonderful taste of whole grain, and to share my love of baking is the origin of the project. The location is quite nice, and a field would add a mystique and meditative look that I think would be appropriate for the quiet neighborhood street. It seems fitting to discover something so natural and appropriate, visually stimulating as well as nutritionally fulfilling when turning the corner.City Wheat, Hamtramck
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