This story originally appeared in Model D on April 9, 2013.
Noah Link and his small team of agricultural entrepreneurs at Peck Produce are pushing the envelope when it comes to redefining the term urban pioneer.
Peck Produce bought about four acres of vacant land from the Michigan Land Bank two years ago. The nearly one square block at 1600 Lawrence St. in the Boston-Edison area of Detroit once housed Peck Elementary School, which was torn down several years ago. Link and his partner, Alex Bryan, named the business Peck Produce in honor of the former school.
"We were lucky to get this at a good price and get started that spring," says Link, co-owner & manager of Peck Produce.
Before co-founding Peck Produce, Link spent a few years working on an organic farm near Chelsea and at Growing Hope, an urban-agriculture-advocacy-and-education nonprofit based in Ypsilanti. Bryan worked at farms in Colorado and New Hampshire before relocating to Detroit. Peck Produce now employs a team of three people with plans to hire another 3-4 this spring.
That growing team grows a variety of vegetables on the land and recently received approval to start an aquaponics system on the farm. Aquaponics lets people raise fish in a water-tank system that are then sold commercially. Peck Produce will use a closed-loop system that is generally viewed as more environmentally friendly because it reuses its resources. Plus, it will help Peck Produce increase the economic viability of its operation.
"It's just a great way to maximize what we can grow," Link says. "It offers year-round production."
Read more about Detroit Development at Model D.