Gary Wozniak Founder and CEO Recovery Park
RecoveryPark aims to connect city residents to their local food system and build awareness about healthy eating and sustainability. The organization has built large scale indoor farms to grow fresh produce for the neighborhood and uses the available local workforce. Veterans, recovering addicts and former prisoners are all welcome to apply.
RecoveryPark Farms is now a nearly 20-hectare plot on the city’s lower East side. Wozniak: “Plants don’t care if you’re coming out of prison. Anyone can grow them, and they provide immediate feedback.”
While volunteering with Detroit rehab organization Self-Help Addiction Rehabilitation in 2008, Gary Wozniak hatched a unique concept: envisioning a commercial-scale agriculture project that would repurpose a blighted neighborhood as a farm, reinvigorating its surroundings while also serving Detroit restaurants’ growing, often unfilled demand for Detroit-grown produce.
Detroit counted 1.9 million people in 1951 at the height of its population. Today only 630,000 people live in the city that once was the world’s automotive capital. Losing two thirds of its population led to economic decay and thousands of empty buildings. At present, numerous signs of rejuvenation are visible. Several initiatives were taken by Detroit’s citizens to improve the cityscape by renovating and revitalizing neighborhoods. One of these initiatives, RecoveryPark, focuses on creating jobs while supplying fresh and nutritious food to the local community.
Signs of the predominant function of the commercial-scale are visible as well. RecoveryPark recently erected its first hectare of steel-framed, plastic-covered, plastic-covered, self-heating greenhouses also known as hoop houses. In 2020, almost 15 hectare of heated glass greenhouses will be built. Over the next 15-20 years, RecoveryPark hopes to establish around 400 hectare year-round indoor farms.
The entire operation will be aimed at supplying grocers and restaurants in Metro Detroit’s emerging fresh food market. The farm operation plans to begin by supplying leafy greens and herbs, and will later expand to tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables.