Cadillac Urban Gardens on Merritt (CUGM) is a community vegetable garden located in the heart of Southwest Detroit. CUGM is a collaborative project between the Ideal Group, General Motors, Detroit Dirt, Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV), Rush Trucking, Congress of Communities, Better Day Ministries and Southwest Detroit residents that aims to create a zero waste garden environment while providing residents with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as a community gathering space.
Through the work of SDEV, volunteer groups, and garden work days in 2013, over 5,500 volunteer hours have been recorded between CUGM and Scarcyny Park & Garden. Most of the volunteers are children and young people. From residents to school groups to volunteer corps, CUGM sees dozens of new and familiar faces every week. The garden is open daily, so residents can come and pick what they need, and baskets of produce are put out daily for anyone in need to take home.
Nearly 50 community organizations and businesses have partnered on this project over the past two years, approximately 50 produce baskets have been provided to various community organizations, and over 3,000 lbs of potatoes have been distributed throughout the community.
The waste reduction efforts at CUGM are numerous. The Ideal Group donated a vacant, former Cadillac Executive Parking lot as the space for the project, while General Motors repurposed 250 shipping crates to be used as raised vegetable planter beds. Detroit Dirt provided the compost, which is sourced from local partners, including Detroit Zoo animal manure, Astro Café coffee grounds, and composted food scraps fromthe Marriott Hotel in GM’s worldheadquarters and GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.
SDEV’s Healthy Business Program is working with Bright Recycling Services to provide recycling and compost bins, more efficient water use strategies, and to faciliate a new partnership with Forgotten Harvest to reduce the amount of wasted fruits and vegetables. By repurposing these 250 shipping crates, weighing 70 pounds each, a total of 8.75 tons of metal was kept out of the waste stream.
Sarah Clark of Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision designed the environmental landscape plan for this project.