GM and MUFI Think Inside The Box For Urban Farming Project

Urban agriculture is growing fast across the U.S. A new collaboration is adding an exciting element of recycling to the concept. It’s happening in Detroit, where General Motors’ local Hamtramck Assembly plant is working with the city’s nonprofit Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) to help build an occupied shipping container homestead.

The 40-feet long, eight-feet wide and 10-feet tall container home will be constructed of 85 percent scrap materials donated by General Motors. Employees will donate their time and skills to help build it.

The materials GM is donating come from several of its assemblies and include items such as Chevrolet Volt battery cases, which will be repurposed into bird houses and plant boxes. Metal parts bins will become planter boxes, wood pallets and other scrap wood will be used to build furniture, lockers will have a second lease of life as planter boxes and tool storage, and so several other types of materials will be transformed.

The reclaimed container will be used by MUFI to demonstrate the effectiveness of reused material on dwelling geared up for urban agriculture. TAKD Design and Integrity Building Group of Detroit are also contributing to the project. A university student caretaker will live year-round in the home and manage the farm while using the land for agricultural research activities.

MUFI was founded in 2012 to empower urban communities by taking vacant land and using agriculture as a platform to promote education, community and sustainability. “This innovative project allows our facility to give back even more and be an integrated community partner while reusing materials that would otherwise be discarded,” said Doneen McDowell, Detroit-Hamtramck plant manager. “MUFI’s plan to reinvent urban agriculture is a creative approach that helps Detroit’s renaissance in a sustainable, efficient manner.”

The project was made possible through the General Motors Foundation and its annual Plant City Grants program. This year, the GM Foundation will provide more than $1.7 million in funding to 209 organizations in 45 plant cities where GM employees live and work. As part of this funding, the GM Foundation last week donated $50,000 to nine Detroit and Hamtramck charities, bringing its total investment to more than $200,000 since 2011 within the community.

Image credit: GM