04/06/2012 10:06 am ET

Detroit Farm And Garden Supply Store Opens In Southwest

Just in time for spring, a new garden supply store is opening to meet Detroit's growing urban agriculture needs.

Detroit Farm and Garden opened Monday in the Southwest Housing Solutions-owned Creative Arts Center, a former police precinct on Vernor in Southwest Detroit. Apart from farm and gardening supplies, owner Jeff Klein said the store will carry local food products to support the cottage food industry, as well as offer educational resources.

Klein, who has owned a landscaping business for 13 years and lived in Detroit for 15, said he decided to open the store to meet a need he saw through his work with urban gardening and farming.

"It's knowing the community and being a part of the community [that] let me know there's need," he said. "It's been three years of perseverance and sweat equity and all of us really working together."

Detroit Farm and Garden is in it for the long haul: Klein signed a 10-year lease for the space.

Southwest Housing Solutions received brownfield tax credits and other funding for the $2 million development of the Creative Arts Center. 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios will also move into the building in the coming months, with plans to use the former precinct's front offices for studio and gallery space.

Beyond their own plans, the garden shop and gallery have big ideas for the whole building. With grant money from the Erb Family Foundation, the organizations will complete a storm water mitigation project and are in the planning stages to create a green roof.

Klein, who is a board member of the Detroit Agriculture Network, said they are partnering with other local groups and will have classes on urban agriculture. Later in April, they're holding a class on alliums with the Garden Resource Program.

"We're also here to perpetuate what is already going on in the community," he explained. "We want to support the programs that are already existing and pick up where some of the programming ends."