Introducing Stewart Beal ‘s newest venture… CityFARM

    I’ve been puzzling over an email that I received from local real estate developer Stewart Beal a few days ago, announcing a new “business concept” of his, called CITYfarm. “CityFARM,” said Beal in his letter, “is a company with a social mission (kind of like a hybrid of a for profit company and a not for profit company) that installs urban farms (aka large vegetable gardens) on our clients’ properties.” The email didn’t have a lot in the way of detail, but Beal mentioned that the company’s first undertaking would be a “demonstration farm” at 103 N. Adams, across the street from the bus terminal in downtown Ypsilanti. “We will use this farm to showcase our work and also will use it to fulfill the companies social mission of donating food to those in need, creating jobs, and beautifying urban spaces,” said Beal. He then asked for help, in the form of cash donations and volunteer labor. He also shared a link to a Kickstarter campaign that he’d started in hopes of raising $3,850 to get the project off the ground. The following comes from the Kickstarter page:

    CityFARM wants to save the world by furthering the urban agriculture movement and improve our community by alleviating hunger in southeastern Michigan. We would like to start an organic urban farm in Ypsilanti, MI. We are very fortunate because the land was donated for the farm, but we need help with the transformation from lawn to urban farm. All the produce that is grown on the Adams Street FARM in Ypsilanti, MI will be donated to Food Gatherers–a non-profit organization that helps to feed the hungry in Washtenaw County. This urban farm will help fight hunger and improve the surrounding community.

    Supplies needed for the transformation include a fence, raised beds, soil and compost, irrigation systems, water catchment, seeds/seedlings, and farming tools. The Adams Street FARM will be comprised of a series of raised beds that we will grow a variety of fruits and vegetables for fresh and local food donations.

    I have a few questions concerning how much produce can realistically be grown in the yard of the home at the intersection of Adams and Pearl, and how exactly the money will be spent, but, generally speaking, I like the idea of more urban gardening, and I suspect that there’s enough need in our community to warrant the creation of another group supplementing the good work that’s already being done by the Ypsilanti non-profit Growing Hope. But I’m struggling a bit with the other side of the CityFARM equation, which is a for-profit entity, and how all of these pieces fit together. A friend reached out to them yesterday, with similar questions, and was told the following.

    “The difference between our For-Profit model & Growing Hope’s Non-Profit is that our profits help our social mission: helping to alleviate hunger in Washtenaw County. For every raised bed you purchase we will install one of the same size at our Adams Street Farm (103 N. Adams, Ypsilanti) & donate the food grown there to Food Gatherers–a local NGO that works toward fighting hungry.”

    As for the prices of building these raised bed gardens, my friend was told that installation costs would run anywhere from $700 to $3000 depending on garden size (smallest 6×10, largest 20×20).

    I’m all for innovative business models, and I want to be supportive of this endeavor, but I don’t know that many people in S.E. Michigan have upward of a $1,000 to invest in the construction of a raised bed vegetable garden. And, to be honest, I’m struggling with how the dollars add up, especially when it looks as though a great deal of the work on Adams street is to be done by volunteers. (At least that’s my impression, based upon the request for unpaid interns they’ve posted on Craigslist.) So, if someone pays $1,000 for a raised bed garden at their home, I’m wondering, how much of that is going to the non-profit? Will the for-profit arm just drop off lumber and soil sufficient for the construction of an identical raised bed garden on Adams Street, or will they build it as well? And what happens when the space on Adams Street runs out?

    With these questions in mind, I’ve reached out to Stewart Beal and Lauren Maloney, who is managing the endeavor for Beal, and asked them a few questions. Here’s our interview…

    MARK:The price for a raised bed seems high. Clearly, the thought is that people will be willing to pay more, as they know that there’s this socially responsible angle, right? I mean, you’re hoping that people will buy into this idea that not only are they investing in their own garden, but they’re also building an identical garden for those without the resources…

    LAUREN: I believe that are prices are not high. However, I understand that there may be a learning curve to educate people in buying something they have never bought before. We intentionally priced our services below what landscaping companies charge for landscaping in the area and our staff is significantly more educated in farming, gardening, and landscaping than the average company in the outdoor maintenance industry. For $32 per hour we offer an expert farmer designing, building, and maintaining your urban farm and gardens. Our price for urban farm packages includes everything you need to grow food for a season including compost/soil mix, mulch for pathways, organic fertilizer, NON-GMO seeds and organic seedlings, complete irrigation kits, garden hose, bamboo trellis, and tomato twine and stakes. This price also includes material delivery, ground rototilling, removal of weeds and grass, leveling the bed, forming the raised bed mounds, seed and seedling planting, irrigation setup and pathway mulching. Of course our packages are completely customizable, and I am happy to do a free at home consultation to create a plan that works for any vision or budget.

    Yes we definitely want people to be attracted to CityFARM because of the socially responsible angle. However we aren’t charging more to support this at this time. We believe alleviating hunger is an extremely important issue in our community despite our urban farming business. Being a for-profit business is an excellent way to help contribute to our community. We have this social mission because we believe everyone should have access to healthy food. It makes sense to use our for-profit business to support our social mission. NGOs and non-profits are extremely important to creating positive change in our community. We are also trying to make a change and contribute to our community. Many businesses give donations to charitable organizations, we are doing the same through our social mission.

    MARK: You mention Food Gatherers a few times in your materials. How did that relationship come about, and will they be helping to promote the initiative as well?

    LAUREN: Food Gatherers is a great organization in our community that helps to fight hunger in Washtenaw County. We immediately thought of them when we started this project. I’ve been in contact them about the project and they are happy to receive our donations. They will help promote our business and social mission by make our fliers available to visitors at their warehouse. Once our Adams Street Farm is installed we hope to make weekly donations to Food Gatherers.

    MARK: What happens if the Kickstarter campaign isn’t successful? So far, it looks as though you’ve raised about $200 toward your goal. Will this happen regardless?

    LAUREN: Yes, Adams Street Farm is the backbone of our social mission and will happen regardless of the Kickstarter funding. If our funding is successful this will help us transform grass to food production much faster, and in turn this will allow us to donate more food sooner to Food Gatherers. Despite the Kickstarter, we hold true to our mission, a portion of our profits will go to building, growing, and maintaining a donation urban farm.

    STEWART: I have been wanting to try out Kickstarter for quite some time. I am currently pursuing several internet based business ideas, specifically at least one having to do with “crowdsourcing” and am generally interested in these types of business. When we started CityFARM I realized that this might be a great way to try it out. Furthermore, Kickstarter is a great way to continue to promote the business through social media channels. For the overall success of the entire business, I think it is more important to have more backers in total instead of more money in total. More backers will encourage word of mouth advertising which is the back bone of every successful business.

    MARK: Is there any concern that you might be stepping on the toes of Growing Hope, which works in a similar space, building community gardens, etc? Have you had discussions with them about how there might be synergies between your organizations?

    STEWART: CityFARM and Growing Hope have similar missions in encouraging healthy living, urban agriculture, and improving our communities. I have personally donated money to Growing Hope and will continue to do so. However CityFARM is a fundamentally a contracting business which we hope will soon be operation in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Toledo, and Detroit. One of the first people I emailed about the business was (Growing Hope’s Director) Amanda Edmonds and I do look forward any possibility of collaboration.

    LAUREN: I recently attended a workshop hosted by Growing Hope called Garden Planning. It was really informative and will help us moving forward. This was an event I paid for, and so it will certainly benefit both organizations.

    MARK: Some could look at this and say, “This is Beal seeing a business opportunity, as more people move into the world of raised-bed, backyard gardening, and finding an emotional hook which will allow him to charge a premium.” And, others will no doubt say, “Here’s a guy who wants to provide healthy food for the needy, and he found a way to do it within the free market system, without relying, for the most part, on charity and grants.” Which would be closer to the truth?

    LAUREN: Certainly the 2nd is most accurate. Our for-profit business helps to support our social mission and to further our social and environmental goals. CityFARM offers services to our clients that want to grow organic produce at home but do not have the knowledge or time. So, not only do our clients get our urban farming services, but they are helping others at the same time. This is a great bonus when using our services.

    We believe that urban farms and especially the transformation of grass to food production have a great environmental benefit. Lawns, grass, and traditional landscaping are often sprayed with harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We are a practicing organic company, which means we only use natural fertilizer like compost and fish emulsion for our raised beds and integrated pest management instead of harmful pesticides that kill “good” predator bugs. Biodiversity can be beneficial even on the backyard scale.

    MARK: You mention that the Adams Farm will create jobs. Will those jobs be paid, and, if so, how many people do you anticipate hiring?

    LAUREN: CityFARM, of which the Adams Street Farm is a small part, launched with me being the only full time employee. All employees are paid, and this week we hired 2 more employees who have interest and experience in urban farming. As the business grows we will hire as many employees as needed including adding Detroit based employees. The field of sustainable agriculture is growing and as more urban farms get set up we will need experienced farmers to work those jobs. We would like to expand throughout southeast Michigan and Detroit and will need expert farmers in many different locations. Detroit is known for their empty lots, which a great place to fill with food.

    MARK: What will you be growing on the lot at Adams and Pearl, and do you have any estimates concerning the level of productivity that might be possible? Is this project, in other words, likely to yield enough produce to make a significant dent in the problem that we’re facing?

    LAUREN: Our Adams Street Farm will grow a wide variety of vegetables. We hope to have over 2000 square feet in production this season. Even one garden bed can produce quite a bit of food and we hope to have more than 30 beds at Adams Street. We will grow tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, arugula, peppers, cucumbers, peas, beans, beets, carrots, kale, collards, swiss chard, onions, melons, winter and summer squash, herbs, and more! All of our seed will be NON-GMO and we will also use heirloom seeds when available. We hope to make weekly donations to and any donation big or small can make a difference. As Food Gatherers says a $5 donation or 1 row in a garden can help provide food to those in need in our community.

    MARK: Assuming the lot at Adams and Pearl fills up, what’s next? Do you have your eyes on other properties?

    LAUREN: Beal Properties, LLC is happy to provide more open space for CityFARM if the Adams Street Farm fills up, because that means more food will donated to Food Gatherers. Beal Properties owns a very large lot at 812 River, Ypsilanti and owns a vacant lot at 711 Pearl, Ypsilanti that would make a great urban agriculture space. The great thing about urban farms are that they can be started on many different types and sizes of land: an open lot, a backyard or front yard, space next to a commercial building, a school yard, or even roof top.

    Those interested in getting a quote from CityFARM, will find an online form here.

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      87 Comments

      1. Brad K!
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        Curious question: Would Beal also allow tenants to build their own raised beds on his property, in lieu of taking advantage of the service in question? Or, is it CityFARM or nothing?

        We had a landlord in Ann Arbor who, upon showing us the house we eventually rented for a year, pointed to an area along the fence. He said in the past tenants had used this area for a garden, and he’d be okay if we wanted to do so as well. If we wanted, he’d come out and till (gratis), and we’d be welcome to use any of his garden tools/supplies which were in the shed (also gratis).

        Know the Beal service is offering more, and applaud their involvement with Food Gatherers, though the “pay me a thou for a garden!” approach leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. That said, I do have a bit of a bias, as all I know who have rented from Beal in the past (all non-students) have had little good to say at the end of their terms.

      2. Edward
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        Next time you speak with him, can you ask about the Thompson Block? I’d love an update.

      3. White Jake
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        This is fucking sad and infuriating. It’d be one thing if the huckster offered to do good in his community *for free*; but to copycat burgeoning ecojustice initiatives *for profit* is beyond the pale. The pig belongs in Chelsea.

      4. Edward
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        The Courier has something about it today too.

        http://www.heritage.com/articles/2012/02/24/ypsilanti_courier/news/doc4f47add439f31687225903.txt?viewmode=fullstory

      5. Eel
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        This is what entrepreneurs do. They see opportunities and they exploit them mercilessly. Beal has owned property next to Growing Hope for while now, and he’s seen the organization grow. He knows that there’s a market for this kind of thing. I suppose that we should be happy that, at least, he’s making an effort to incorporate the downtown farm, which could be a positive for the community. I can’t see him being able to sell any of these expensive raised beds in Ypsi, but he’ll likely do well in Ann Arbor. And, if that’s what people in Ann Arbor want to spend their money on, and if we can benefit in some small way, well, I’m OK with that.

      6. Lance
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

        Well that’s a pretty good idea! I am sure there are people out there that would pay for it.

      7. XXT
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        He may not have the price points right, and I think that he needs to do a better job articulating what it is that people are getting for their $700+, but, otherwise, I think this is a pretty good idea to keep his people working in an environment where these isn’t a lot of demand for construction.

      8. Mark H
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        Beal says this is a for-profit enterprise with a social purpose, but in requesting “donations” to and “volunteers” for this business, he runs real risks of betraying trust and misleading people. It conflates two very different things — profit and community service – and exploits our culture’s current confusion about what business does: business seeks profit; if a desired social purpose is also served, fine, but just as acceptable is a negative social impact, if it’s profitable.

        Asking for donations for his fledgling for profit-business reeks of naked self-interest and a desire to compete with Growing Hope for scarce donations. American capitalism has of course for centuries took over community services and enterprises, to find ways of extracting profit from them. Usually, the community is left worse off than before.

      9. K2
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        People are intimidated by the idea of doing things for themselves. Building a raised bed is easy. There’s not much easier.

      10. Max Abuelsamid
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        The way he talks about it, he makes it really seem like he cares about us all and is just doing it to help hungry people out. In reality, no one in Ypsi or very very few will actually be able to afford this, or desire to pay $1000 for something they can do themselves for a fraction of that cost. All the business will go to a2 and so will most of the free food.

      11. auntie Ypsi
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Give Stuie break. When he tries to do something good, everyone on this blog slams him. I am going to give his garden a try myself as something like this is right up my alley. I also know of other people who will do the same.
        Also, this is the best the Thompson Block has looked in 25 years.

      12. nj
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        slavoj zizek on charity:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpAMbpQ8J7g

        I’m not that well versed in matters of philosophy but I think I understand what Zizek is talking about here, and overall it makes sense to me and is relative to this conversation.

        Also, this quote comes to mind…”Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it.”

      13. Redleg
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        As K2 says…. As for an outdoor project, a raised bed is fairly easy, the hardest part maybe transferring all the soil/compost to fill it…… 700 bucks for 60 square feet!?? Haha ha…. No. Let’s play spot the troll comments as Beal associates are asked to “post” their positive reactions– Pretty sure this game has already started.

      14. Brad K!
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        If Beal truly does have trolls/friends/etc surfing around mm.com leaving positive comments about the things he does, it’d be nice if they could track down an answer to my question above. I’ve never seen one of his leases, so I’m not sure if there’s any “don’t touch the yard!” style conditions which appear within.

      15. Jon
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        Regarding the cost per bed, I think Beal is on point. I have built a couple of raised-bed gardens and the starting price per bed ($300) sounds right. I built a couple of 4 foot by 8 foot beds a couple of feet above the ground for about that cost last year. My beds required soil testing (for things like lead and other toxic substances that are known to accumulate in urban areas over the last century), a number of treated 4x4s, plastic to line the interior of the box, nails, staples, clean top soil to fill the bed and time/labor to put it all together. The bulk of the cost is in the 4x4s and soil, and that equaled about $300 itself. If you want to make some bigger beds or a line of 4×8 beds (like the ones in Midtown Detroit by Mario’s), I could see the price easily going to $1,000.

        There are, of course, cheaper ways to create raised beds for urban gardening. I see a lot of people use recycled 1×6 boards with existing soil (probably untested) that are only a few inches above ground level. Those can be done at practically no cost beyond the labor to put them together. But if I was running a business based on raised garden beds, I would want to make sure I do it as safely as possible, if anything, so I could sleep at night. The last thing I would want is for a child who ate my well-intentioned vegetables to get lead poisoning.

      16. Topher
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        I guess I don’t get why Beal won’t make it a non-profit besides wanting to make money as priority number one. To me it’s like a big bank versus a credit union.

        I’d rather stick with Growing Hope and The Ecology Center, which has an upcoming Garden Work Day. You can have them install a raised bed (or help you plan your garden). I think a square raised bed costs something like $25 (although I’m not positive on this).

        http://www.aa350.org/?p=1919

      17. anon
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        I have come to the conclusion that he means well, he’s just incompetent. He’s an accidental slumlord which is truly pitiable. Why would someone pay Beal for landscaping when he can’t maintain the landscaping of his own properties? Or even remember to pay the utility bills? Stewie should stop throwing new balls in the air since he can’t handle the ones that are already there.

        “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” –Ron Swanson

      18. Posted February 25, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the detective work, glad to see some of my links got in, and you got on ‘em! We’ll see which way this blows……..

      19. Walt
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

        The Beal business model is to take advantage of stupid people.

        It hasn’t failed him yet. I don’t see why it will fail this time around.

        You should donate Mark.

      20. Lets Grow
        Posted February 25, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

        For those who haven’t visited either Beal’s site or Growing Hope’s, here’s what a non-profit raised bed garden costs (from GrowingHope.net):

        Our Raised Bed Kits are easy to assemble and include everything you need to build your own 4’ x 4’ garden box! 100% of the profit from the sale of this locally made kit supports non-profit educational programming!

        Product Description: Each kit comes with 4 identical 4 foot sides, made from white pine lumber, 12 screws, and easy to follow instructions. The only tool required for assembly is a screwdriver; Pilot holes are pre-drilled and wood is cut to size. The beds are 8″ tall. (Instructions with pictures are available for download below.)

        Cost: $35

        $35. 100% of profits to education. CityFarm, it’s a free market. What are your numbers? Are you donating whatever food makes it (easy) or educating for change? Frankly, any of us with a twenty in their pocket can “donate” more food than you can grow on Adams.

        More frankly, this seems like a cheap attempt to rip off an organization who is deeply invested in our community, has actually thought about it beyond a pound of lettuce leaves, and invests, heavily, into food and entrepreneurial education. All I’ve heard your for profit entity claim is that whatever happens to grow on your city lot, that you don’t obviously don’t need, you’ll give away.

        Let’s be honest Stew, your “hope” in this is to make a profit. You haven’t given an ounce of thought to education. To change. You’re “donating” a lawn and hoping volunteers will save you the trouble and expense of earning an honest profit.

        A raised bed is dirt and wood (both free). A changed life is compassion, patience and education. Stewart Beal, you suck. I’m the last to realize it, having “had your Thompson Block” back on a hundred posts here.

        But I’m finally getting it. You’re arrogant beyond belief. You think you’re in touch, but you’re surprisingly out. You are the poor, spoiled reflection of you ancestors.

        No doubt, your daddy’s allowance will keep you in town a long time, but after this limp, hungry profit aping of Growing Hope, no one will ever introduce me to you without me repressing a slug to the throat, nuts and face.

        Although I will try to repress it, I can’t promise that I will. We should talk. Because your fake, thoughtless charity, based on a real, thoughtful charity, seriously pisses me off.

        And I don’t want to meet you enraged.

        I should note, I’m the least enraged. I was elected to comment here because was the most dispassionate. Put simply, you are fucking with something good. Tell US how your fucking is for our community’s good, more than yours. In numbers.

      21. Andre
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 12:30 am | Permalink

        Jon wrote:
        Regarding the cost per bed, I think Beal is on point. I have built a couple of raised-bed gardens and the starting price per bed ($300) sounds right.

        $300 is ridiculously high for building a 4×8 raised bed. And if you’re concerned enough about contaminants to test your soil, you should probably think twice about using treated lumber and plastic to line the bed.

      22. dragon
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 2:00 am | Permalink

        Put yourself in Beal’s position. How’s a grifter goin’ to grift. Your choices are drug addiction, homelessness, or hunger. Can you really get the suckers to volunteer their time and donate their money to selling clean needles or rehabbing the foreclosures he’s bought? I don’t think so. But you can get them to start a garden.
        I’ll take a dime bag of tomatoes and a cardboard box of cucumbers.
        Bravo Stewart.

      23. Jon
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        @Andre: It’s interesting you are criticizing using treated lumber and plastic to build a raised bed. That’s exactly what the Midtown Detroit, then UCCA, used to build the raised beds in its urban gardens, and I would use those as a benchmark for urban gardens in Metro Detroit. Anyone who doesn’t test their soil in an urban area that has been exposed to decades of who knows what toxic substances is literally taking their lives in their hands. Not soil testing is just dumb and dangerous.

      24. Posted February 26, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        I find this project odd.

      25. Jon
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        @Andre: It’s interesting you are criticizing using treated lumber and plastic to build a raised bed. That’s exactly what the Midtown Detroit, then UCCA, used to build the raised beds in its urban gardens, and I would use those as a benchmark for urban gardens in Metro Detroit. Anyone who doesn’t test their soil in an urban area that has been exposed to decades of who knows what toxic substances is literally taking their lives in their hands. Anyone who doesn’t test their soil is just being dumb and dangerous.

      26. Emma
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        This whole thing does seem a little weird. Does he really need a kickstarter campaign for what should be a small amount of money to someone in his position? Where did the photos on the website come from? The prices listed might be a little high but it’s difficult to get any contractor to show up and do work for less than a thousand dollars… They’re not just proposing dropping off some boards and a bag of dirt. You pay them and they supposedly leave you with a fully planted, irrigated garden and walkway. Although the supplies can be obtained for very little, the work involved in site preparation is significant and I can see how someone with enough money would gladly pay to have the work done for them

      27. Emma
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        FWIW, a house owned by Beal, on Buffalo, did have a small garden last year…

      28. GinnyG
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        I managed the Beal garden last year. I have a garden installation business in its second year. Clearly this project hits close to home for me and I have every reason for sour grapes. But Kathi Beal was very kind and I do think they want to do good for Ypsi. They have such an opportunity with their influence in this community to make stuff happen. I hope this and projects further can lead this community to be even more awesome.

      29. Posted February 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        I don’t see why he would need to generate anything on kickstarter. He should have access to plenty of capital.

        This makes no sense.

      30. kjc
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        I’m with Let’s Grow.

        the whole thing makes me sad.

      31. Walt
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        If Growing Hope can’t compete with Beal, they shouldn’t be in the gardening business.

        Leave that to professionals like Stewart.

      32. Lance
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Stewart stay out of Ypsi. The jobs you create, the lofts and apartments you build, and your investment is not wanted here.

        Are you guys really getting down on the guy for creating an organization that is going to donate some food to food gatherers?

        Where did this notion that this would somehow compete with Growing Hope come from? I find that accusation very odd. How does one compete with a non profit? Like compete to see who can donate the most food or something?

      33. Redleg
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        The whole thing about pressure treated lumber is an ongoing argument with many facets both pro and con. For the most part it seems the inorganic arsenic inherent within older types of pressure treated lumber doesn’t leach into vegetable plants to any appreciable degree, yet it does in fact, nonetheless leach into the surrounding soil, and the old CCA treated lumber is hazardous to handle as it is readily absorbed into the skin, and in construction, dust masks and gloves are required to cut or handle the stuff. Also, you’ll be hard pressed to find anymore playgrounds being built with the stuff– Old or new versions of chemically altered wood.
        The reason I’m generally against the stuff is similar to why I’m against the readily available lawn and insect chemicals to the public at large: Not enough people use, handle or dispose of the shit properly, or even worse, responsibly. Out in the country I’ve known folks to burn their old pressure treated swing sets or decks (inorganic arsenic in the air, nice!) in their backyards, and dump their leftover Round up weed killer down the drain…. In my opinion (just mine) build your raised beds like mine with cheap untreated pine two by lumber, which I set on a bed of pea gravel to aid with drainage and retard the eventual rot. I constructed my raised beds about ten years ago, and only this past summer have I noticed some appreciable rot– So I think that I may be doing some board replacement in a couple of summers from now. Not bad and generally worry free as far as the chemicals go..

      34. Posted February 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        I’m impressed by the amount of vitriol presented here, and I have to imagine it’s based on personal complaints against Stewart. I’m certainly no pro-Beal plant, but I support the idea of another entrant into the urban gardening scene: I have no fear that Beal’s CityFarm endeavor will threaten the existence of Growing Hope — there’s plenty of room to “grow the pie” before we are in any danger of eating each others’ slices.

        I can’t speak for Amanda (or for GH), but I’ll take a wild guess that she’s fine with “competition” from Stewart and Lauren. After all, the last time somebody proposed a private fund to support for-profit food growing in Ypsi, it was Amanda.

        Looking back in time just a few short months, Amanda proposed,

        let me know if you’d like to contribute anywhere from, say $50-$350 to this endeavor … (and I’m talking about doing this as me personally right now– not Growing Hope, just so everyone is clear!)

        She suggested the land could then be leased out (gasp) to people who would grow food, whether for themselves or for sale (the horrors) at the farmers’ market. I don’t recall anybody reaching for the tar and feathers.

        Why is it that when Amanda proposes that people give her (personally) money to launch a tenant farmer arrangement, people use the comments to talk about how much they love the idea, while when Beal proposes a service that will install (and maintain?) raised beds at your house, and use the proceeds to run a “farm” that will donate its produce to Food Gatherers, people talk about how much they want to slug him in the nuts? I have to imagine it’s a personal thing, rather than any real commentary on his proposal.

      35. anon
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        @murph
        Amanda deserves the benefit of the doubt that she’ll do it right and for the right reasons. Stewart, not so much.

      36. Mr. Y
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        Stewart rubs people the wrong way. There’s nothing that people like less than hearing a man who inherited a company talking ad nauseam about how he’s a “self-made man.” It also doesn’t help that he, through his negligence, allowed the historic Thompson Block to burn. (He got the building for a song, and then invest in securing the building, making it possible for squatters to move in, set fire to the place, etc.) And, on top if it all, he doesn’t seem to be that good of a landlord. So, I’m not so anxious to join Murph in his Admirers of Beal club. Still, though, I don’t see that he’s doing anything illegal here, and, as that’s the case, I’m fine with it. I hope he’s successful, builds expensive raised gardens all across Ann Arbor, hires local people in Ypsi to run the non-profit, and donates a ton of money to Food Gatherers.

      37. Jon B
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Mr. Y what company did he inherit? If you read the bio at http://wearecityfarm.com/aboutus.html it sounds like he created 6 companies and bought 70 properties.

      38. auntie Ypsi
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        I am with Murph 100% I am not a plant for Beal nor would I be a plant for anyone.
        I think Beal used the American way and is making a great idea happen. Amanda also had the same idea but for what ever reason could not make it happen.
        Go Beal, Go Growing Hope, Go Ypsi

      39. Love, Ypsi
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s great that Stewart is bringing jobs and growth to Ypsilanti. He and Lauren are offering a service to homeowners (building, maintaining gardens) AND offering something to the community (a demonstration farm, donations to food gatherers).

        I can certainly understand that people have complaints about the Thompson Block project – which has taken some time to get off the ground. I think it’s admirable that he hasn’t given up on the building – after all, it’s been given up on before.

      40. kjc
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        of course it’s personal. so is trust. i don’t have a problem with anyone rolling their eyes at the guy. he’s earned it. but apparently he has plenty of supporters so he doesn’t need the people who don’t trust him. in that case, carry on.

      41. Posted February 26, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        The free market will solve everything.

        Amanda must just be a complete loser.

      42. x
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        Beal is a suckhole.

      43. Max Abuelsamid
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        Wow, seeing what Lets Grow and the rest of you wrote, this Beal guy is a fucking scammer. Charging over 2000% what these beds would cost if you went to Growing Hope and still asking for donations/volunteer labor.

      44. Emma
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink

        @ Jon B.
        Anyone with around $60.00 can “start a company”.

      45. Nancy
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        What does this have to do with Growing Hope? Nothing!

      46. Zoe the Wonder Dog
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        Murph: “Why is it that when Amanda proposes that people give her (personally) money to launch a tenant farmer arrangement…”

        We didn’t “give her money,” we bought into a project from which we will share the risks and benefits as investors/partners. This strikes me as profoundly different than donating to a for-profit enterprise through a kickstarter campaign.

      47. Napali68
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        My own suspicions of this scheme run to what tax benefits Beal will reap from this business model. Will this for-profit company that donates food allow Beal to write off his rental properties where the donation gardens are placed? Will he get these kinds of benefits even if the donations to Food Gatherers are minimal?

        I’m also slightly uncomfortable with a model to “end hunger” that is based on donations. What in our food system is actually being changed? How are food insecure families being empowered? Charity isn’t a “social mission.”

      48. Burt Reynolds
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        Why is he starting this? Can’t the Thompson Block be finished first? Has anyone been by that thing lately? All he did was complete the front, paint on some fake windows, and put up a sign that he is looking for renters. Is he aware the back is still completely burned out, broken , and completely wide open? I’ve never heard of any of the companies he has started. I feel like he just wanbts his name attached to everything and anything he can. I don’t know anything about gardening, urban or otherwise, however I have to thing 3800.00 for some boards and dirt in my backyard is insane, no matter how well it is constructed. And kickstarter funds? Hilarious. Very confused.

      49. Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        Zoe — I understand the details of Amanda’s proposal were more nuanced than the two sentence excerpt I included, but those weren’t necessarily included in the MM.com post on the matter. My intent was to muse at the fact that it’s interesting to see the wildly different reactions when small windows are opened into two proposals which have a lot of similarity on their face, and suggest that these reactions are based more on people’s opinions of the participants than of the proposal themselves. I think Mr. Y and kjc caught my drift–”Stewart rubs people the wrong way.”, “of course it’s personal. so is trust.”

        I don’t plan to contribute to CityFarm’s kickstarter, or buy their raised beds (I’ve put my time, money, and sweat into the Frog Island garden, and build my own at home). I only want people to disambiguate their personal negative opinions of Beal from a blanket condemnation of social enterprise.

      50. Walt
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        My landlord has always encouraged gardening so I contacted Beal to see what it would take to get a couple of beds in the front lawn.

        He emailed to say that he would need to block the sidewalk for 18 months in order to install them. WTF?

      51. anonymous
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        Lesson learned from the Thompson Block fiasco…..

        Never give a community asset to a demolition company, hoping that they’ll be the right ones to rehabilitate it.

        When need a doctor, you don’t seek out a mortician.

      52. Meta
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        AnnArbor.com is now on the story as well.

        http://www.annarbor.com/business-review/developer-stewart-beal-launches-urban-farming-business-with-a-social-mission/

      53. Posted February 27, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        Beal linked to this page on his FB page. No doubt, he hasn’t read any of the comments yet.

      54. anonymous
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        I think he just doesn’t care, Peter. Any publicity is good publicity.

      55. alan2102
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        Jon: “I have built a couple of raised-bed gardens and the
        starting price per bed ($300) sounds right…. The bulk of the
        cost is in the 4x4s and soil, and that equaled about $300 itself.”

        Let’s see…

        4×8 raised bed…

        need 6 pcs 2″x6″x8′ lumber at about $3.50 each (menards.com) = $21.00
        need 4 pcs 4″x4″x2′ lumber (for the corners), one 8′er cut = $9.00
        need lag bolts or other fasteners for corners; let’s say $6.00
        need Blue Hawk 10′x25′ 4Mil Plastic Sheeting (lowes.com) = $10.00
        need circa 1.5 yards* topsoil for fill, delivered = $60.00**

        TOTAL = $106.00, plus several hours’ work, perhaps a day; need
        wheelbarrow, shovel, drill, post-hole digger, etc., and sturdy
        spinal erectors, gluteus maximi, hamstrings, etc. Would be nice
        to put a couple coats of stain on the outside of the raw
        lumber (cosmetic).

        Costs could be reduced considerably by scrounging odd lumber from
        dumpsters, Habitat Restores, A2 Recycle, etc., etc.; though this
        takes time.

        Andre, above: “$300 is ridiculously high for building a 4×8 raised
        bed.” Not ridiculously high, but somewhat high, depending on
        the value you place on the labor. I would be more than happy to
        pay myself $25/hour for 7-8 hours to build the thing ($185 labor +
        $115 materials = $300). But others might not be so physically
        robust, and/or willing to spend the time.

        Redleg, above: “build your raised beds like mine with cheap
        untreated pine two by lumber, which I set on a bed of pea
        gravel to aid with drainage and retard the eventual rot.”
        Nice idea! Add $10 for a half-yard of gravel (actually a
        quarter yard would do it).

        Jon: “Anyone who doesn’t test their soil in an urban area that
        has been exposed to decades of who knows what toxic substances
        is literally taking their lives in their hands.” This is a valid
        concern, but it is not nearly THAT bad. No one is going to die
        from soil-borne contaminants leaching into food. Nevertheless,
        prudence suggests bringing in fresh topsoil, and using a plastic
        barrier underneath.

        A better, French-intensive-ized version could be done by digging
        down a foot, and filling up TWO feet deep of soil. This would make
        for much better food-production results. But it is a lot of work, plus
        double the cost for topsoil.

        …………………..

        * theoretically, ONE yard (27 cubic feet) would be enough to fill
        a 4x8x1 (32 cubic feet) bed, but adding overage for good measure

        ** $60 is a guess based on figures below, and might be slightly
        optimistic; as you can see, prices are all over the map; note that
        these figures are from late 2009 —

        Washtenaw Sand & Gravel Inc
        4984 Earhart Road 734 668-7915
        topsoil: processed, some small clay clumps, delivered:
        $160.00 5 yards, $193.00 8 yards

        Ann Arbor Super Soils
        7070 W Liberty, 734-994-4411
        garden/bed dirt 3 yards $155.00

        Natural Stone Distr
        http://www.stonemi.com
        S Venoy Rd, Wayne MI 734-812-7904
        Screened Topsoil circa $15 per yard

      56. alan2102
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/garden/14lead.html
        For Urban Gardeners, Lead Is a Concern
        Frank Meuschke learned the soil in his Brooklyn
        garden has high levels of lead.
        By KATE MURPHY
        Published: May 13, 2009
        [...snip...]
        County extension services as well as local public health
        departments often offer free soil testing or can recommend
        schools or companies that do it for a fee. Individuals
        generally mail dirt in sealed plastic bags for analysis. Mr.
        Meuschke paid $12 to have his soil tested by the Environmental
        Sciences Analytic Center at Brooklyn College; some private
        companies charge as much as $50.
        The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Housing
        and Urban Development advise (but do not require) remediation
        if lead levels in soil exceed 400 parts per million in
        children’s play areas and 1,200 p.p.m. elsewhere. But some
        states and cities have set much lower limits. For example, 100
        p.p.m. is considered hazardous in Minneapolis. In the
        Netherlands, 40 p.p.m. is unacceptable. Unpolluted soil
        averages 10 p.p.m. Mr. Meuschke’s soil had lead levels of 939
        p.p.m.
        Since 2003, hazardous amounts of lead have been documented in
        backyard and community gardens in New York as well as in
        Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los
        Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia and
        Washington. Lead-laden soil has been found not only in inner
        city neighborhoods but also suburban areas.
        [...snip...]

      57. K2
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        Most people build raised beds because they’re concerned about soil contamination. That was certainly the case with me. I had the soil for my beds brought in from farmland outside of Ann Arbor. And it cost $100 or more. I’d be curious to know where Beal is getting his soil. Will he invest in pristine topsoil, or will he haul it over from one of his construction sites?

      58. Dan
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        lol. $700 for a raised garden?

      59. Nancy
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        @ Dan,

        If you read the interview it clearly says all the maintenance is included so the $700 presumably includes visiting the farm constantly to maintain it. Sounds pretty affordable knowing that.

      60. Laura
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        I’ve been gardening at my home in Ypsilanti for years and have an extensive raised bed system (about 35 various boxes) over most of our back and front yard. It was built with untreated lumber from HD, some bolts, and paint for the front yard boxes. No special carpentry required. I make my own soil (following Growing Hope’s formula) of mixed cow manure, peat moss, and perlite (bags of which are all available and cheap at Meijer’s) with some of our own compost thrown in. Total cost is next to nothing and we have a good supply of strawberries, cherries, and all sorts of veggies for about half of the year. It is completely unnecessary not to say completely foolish to pay the prices Beal quoted. Anyone with questions about raised beds has a fantastic and experienced resource in Growing Hope, with whom I am not affiliated.

      61. Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        Poo poo and generalize about Ann Arbor all you like, but I don’t think that Beal will get much business for this.

      62. Charlotte
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        I have been gardening in my backyard for four years now (Laura defnintely has more boxes than me LOL). Without hashing over the same arguements that have already been made, I agree that paying the prices that Beal has bandied about is unnecessary. YOu can raise a garden for roughly half that esitmated amount. Having said that, if this was around when I first attempted urban gardening, I would have paid for it. There are people who would be totally intimidated by the startup, costs, perceived time, work etc etc and just handed over money to not think or worry about it.

        It is pricey but there’s a sucker born every minute.

      63. Charlotte
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        @ XXT — I agree that the prices are overinflated. I looked at a link and CITYFarm is looking for interns. I am failing to see a justifiable way for the price breakdown.

        @ Mark H — The mixing of a for-profit business soliciting donations and volunteers sounds deliberately misleading . Definitely a canard.

      64. Dan
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        @Nancy,

        you’re obviously a plant, but whatever. Anyway, the site says

        “We offer maintenance packages that can vary from weekly to monthly maintenance. All maintenance is by the hour and can include weeding, harvesting and/or pest and disease diagnostics.”

        Hourly pay ($35/hour) for garden maintenance obviously isnt included in the set up price.

        as well as Mark’s comment that “my friend was told that installation costs would run anywhere from $700 to $3000 depending on garden size (smallest 6×10, largest 20×20).”

        thats INSTALLATION. and $700 is absolutely insane for such a product

      65. kjc
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        “My landlord has always encouraged gardening so I contacted Beal to see what it would take to get a couple of beds in the front lawn.

        He emailed to say that he would need to block the sidewalk for 18 months in order to install them. WTF?”

        jesus. maybe it’s not personal. i could spot this douche from a mile away.

        my friend who rented in ypsi also built her own raised bed after asking permission from her landlord (Sandee French in this case). then she gave it to the people who took over her apt rental when her lease ran out. all of them stupidly had no idea they couldn’t afford to build one.

      66. Eel
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        Maintenance is most surely not part of the deal. Beal does not come to your house, for you $1,000, pick your tomatoes for you, and leave them on your porch. Nor does he weed, unless you pay more to have him do so. He dumps dirt, rakes it level, and puts seeds in the ground. You do the rest, unless you pay him more to do so.

        And what does he mean when by irrigation systems. Surely he isn’t installing sprinkler systems. Does he mean that he runs a hose to your raised bed?

      67. Posted February 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        The way in which this is competition for Growing Hope is that Beal is asking for donations and unpaid interns. I feel like the use of Kickstarter is sleazy — I understood that that site was geared towards microlending for persons needing startup capital for their projects. (Perhaps many wealthy entrepreneurs use Kickstarter and I’m completely wrong.) But in what way can Stewart Beal not afford to generate his own startup capital? I feel suspicious of a for-profit business asking for my donations, especially in the area of urban gardening which is so focused on self-empowerment, education, and transformation. I’ve been an organic urban gardener for 40 years or so and these prices just seem like a rip-off to me. I’ve rarely spent more than $50 per year for seeds, I make my own soil, and have built all my own cold frames and raised beds out of re-used materials. The point of organic gardening is to create a closed loop in a waste-free system, where weeds are composted into new soil, discarded lumber can become a raised bed, water is harvested from the rain, and so on. I would also have questions about the use of new lumber for raised beds, ask where the soil comes from, question the hourly rate (I would LOVE to make that hourly wage for my forty years of experience, but I’m afraid I make barely a third of that), and question the irrigation with chlorinated city water, etc. Is this truly “organic” and sustainable, or just co-opting the work of others to make a buck?

      68. nj
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Under most circumstances (here in SE MI, as I’m not familiar with growing under other conditions), I don’t really understand why people would build raised bed gardens. Unless you’re growing where there is no soil, like a parking lot or something, what is the point and what are the gains aside from being trendy? I mean, why build a raised bed frame from wood, line it with plastic and then put it on top of other soil? If the soil underneath is poor or contaminated, the most comprehensive approach would be to remediate it, not just throw a raised bed garden on top of it because at the end of the day, the soil underneath is still contaminated.

        The raised bed thing is a minor point so…to echo Napali68′s comment and my previous one, how does this cityfarm model, or any number of it’s non-profit counterparts change anything fundamental about our food system? We’re totally capable of providing everyone with enough food in this country, yet scores of people still go without. I can’t see how any of these non-profit or for-profit models are going to change that.

      69. Dan
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        @Eel,

        the website lists the standard “irrigation system” as “Irrigation system (50’ hose and irrigation for the 1 raised bed).” I assume that is just a standard 50′ hose that hooks to your outdoor spigot.

        The website also offers “more advanced” irrigation in the form of drip irrigation kits that start at the low low price of $59.90. You can get the same kits from Amazon for a half the price.

      70. Dan
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        @nj

        some of us have pretty much 100% clay under the grass/sod. It’s tough to grow anything, without digging it all out, and that takes a lot more time and work than putting together a wood or stone box and filling it with prime soil and compost.

      71. nj
        Posted February 27, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        @Dan
        I didn’t even think about clay-rich soil. I guess I was focusing more on the contaminated aspect of soil, as opposed to it’s make-up. Point taken!

      72. Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        Also, since Beal is fundraising through Kickstarter, about $300-$400 of donations will get skimmed off by Kickstarter (5%) and Amazon (3% to 5%).

      73. art
        Posted February 28, 2012 at 1:55 am | Permalink

        i love reading comments they really bely the underlying negativity in peoples perception of the world. if you don’t know, stewart beal is a resident of ypsilanti, and i looked at the house that he lives in before he bought it and when it was on the market it was listed with $10,000 in property taxes a year. Not only did he buy it,he has renovated it beautifully with his wife kathi. People may disagree with the way that he runs his property management but you might also look at it as though someone whom is very young (he is in his late 20′s) whom is a brilliant entrepreneur took a risk and bought 70 properties which would have other wise been gutted for copper piping and is making a go at renovating and renting them. He may not be perfect but he is making an effort. Not only is he making an effort he is also employing 197 people. what the fuck are you doing for the economy other than bitching about it? many of you may have no comprehension of the sort of confidence that it takes to put yourself on the line and do things that others might not understand. Some of you have said “People in Ypsi won’t pay for those kinds of services”. I love that you all denigrate Ypsi to only having impoverished residences with tons of time on their hands, way to lift up the population. You condemn Stewart for using kick starter when the purpose of the site is as an alternative financing vehicle, kudos to Stewart for exploring other models of creating business. Get out of your boxes people, you are the reason the economy is in the shitter, because for some reason you see business and profit as bad, when in fact stewarts thinking is what is going to get us into the new localized economy. You don’t raise your selves up by putting other people down.

      74. Laura
        Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:04 am | Permalink

        @Charlotte: lol, well, my husband is a patient man. Plus most of the 1-yard-square boxes are in long rows to save space, like the frames in a strip of movie film as it were. So the actual # of boxes adds up quickly. We built it up over 3 growing seasons, so the cost per year was pretty negligible. To the person who asked why bother at all with raised beds–raised beds warm up soil more quickly in the spring, thus extending the growing season, and ensure a defined area of good soil that’s ready to plant come spring (I’m already growing indoor lettuce and in a few weeks will start some from seeds outdoors). The controlled area makes it easier to monitor, weed and maintain over the season. Hat tip to Lisele’s excellent comment as well.

      75. James Madison
        Posted February 28, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

        I’ve rarely had the privilege of talking with Mr. Beal, but each time, he’s been rude and unresponsive. That is his Constitutional right, as a property owner of wealth: no need to respond to the citizens. But once I did over hear the man claim that he was going to use Kickstarter, “in the same way that Steve Jobs did, to raise capital for a company that transforms the world.” Beal is going to end hunger in Wastenaw County, and make a lot of money doing it. Fortunately, Kickstarter allows capitalists an easy way to raise investment capital that they are unwilling to risk themselves, because a sucker is born every minute….at least Mr. Beal seems to think that is what Kickstarter is for.

      76. kjc
        Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        @art thanks for the horatio alger story. it gave me a chuckle.

      77. Eel
        Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        Me thinks Art has a bit of a crush. But, who wouldn’t? There’s something so attractive about a completely self-made man who pulls himself up from poverty to become a titan of industry. My hat is off to men like Mitt Romney, George Bush and Stewart Beal, who have done it.

      78. alan2102
        Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Lisele: “I make my own soil, and have built all my own cold frames and raised beds out of re-used materials.”

        Good for you! That’s the best way. But not everyone has the TIME and patience and physical strength to do that. And also physical space. I save as much junk lumber as I can (and junk everything else), but it is tough in a 1000 sf townhouse with no garage and almost no backyard.

        “The point of organic gardening is to create a closed loop in a waste-free system, where weeds are composted into new soil, discarded lumber can become a raised bed, water is harvested from the rain, and so on.”

        You bet! That’s the ideal. And sometimes we don’t measure up to ideals. Sometimes we just want to get something going quickly, without spending weeks, months or years waiting for (e.g.) the compost to get composted, the right junk lumber to show up in the dumpster, etc., etc.

        There’s plenty of room for many different ways, I think is the point. YOUR WAY IS BETTER, but there is room for other ways, also, for people in different life circumstances.

      79. alan2102
        Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        PS: I agree that the $700 figure (Beal?) is way too high.

      80. Charlotte
        Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        @ art — LOL I think you should give me money for a business venture…if not you are not doing anything for the economy. You are part of the problem if you do not give me capital for a startup.

        http://markmaynard.com/2012/02/introducing-stewart-beal-s-newest-venture-cityfarm/#comment-400337

      81. notoneof thecoolkids
        Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        I give up trying to get people to see the real S. Beal. Believe what you want. But anyone who puts, “must have a high tolerance for ambiguity” in every employment ad for his different companies , is not to be trusted.
        http://annarbor.craigslist.org/ofc/2871596926.html

      82. Lisele
        Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        True, alan2012, there is room for many different ways of approaching “growing your own,” and my way is not the only way. But it is a transformative way — if we just always “get something going quickly without spending weeks months years”… well, that IS the way that our culture usually does things, with all the attendant blowback and resultant messes. Some things actually DO take time, thought, caring, knowledge, etc., an investment that can change you. And maybe your food system, as Eel has been challenging others to think about. I resent someone stealing others’ ideas to make a buck off them, without that important time and knowledge investment.

        I’d say the latter is the model of Borders and Barnes & Nobles versus the ethic of an independent bookstore — and look where they are today. A bookstore is like a garden or farm (and not like selling widgets) — it’s a cultural resource. Hate to sound like a Subaru commercial, but they require attention and love.

      83. Posted April 11, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

        LOL @ notoneof thecoolkids…your so right. I have worked for the narcaccist Stewie. “must have a high tolerance for ambiguity” translates to “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing so please forgive my lack of leadership and figure it out yourself or I’ll fire you”. Worst CEO I have ever had the experience of working under. He has screwed over so many subcontractors, employees and suppliers that I don’t know how he stays in business. Beal, Inc can’t even get a dumpster without paying cash up front because he has screwed so many waste haulers…and his main gig is as a demo contractor…thats all he needs is dumpsters!!! They are doing so much unethical & illegal stuff in the Hamtramck NSP right now its ridiculous. I don’t know how that guy can sleep at night. He has sooooooooo many skeletons in his closet.

      84. Elf
        Posted April 16, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        The first beds are in.

        http://imgur.com/GAeiN

      85. Posted April 16, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

        This whole thing is weird.

      86. A. S.
        Posted December 9, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        Now that the growing season is coming to and end, I’d like to know what the total amount of food donated by City Farm. Does that data exist somewhere?

      87. Eljo
        Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

        How much food has been donated thus far? Does anyone know?

      2 Trackbacks

      1. [...] non-profit Growing Hope just sent in the following letter in response to my recent post about real estate developer Stewart Beal’s newly launched, somewhat competitive, largely for-profit …. Many, many community members and partners have come to me this past week with concerns about [...]

      2. [...] on justifiable homicide? And, it’s not all self-serving. For every gun I sell, I’ll be taking a page from the book of Stuart Beal and offering one to a homeless veteran for free. (They’ll still have to come to me for [...]

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