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Meet Peace Tree Parks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Peace Tree Parks. 

Hello Peace Tree Parks, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Peace Tree Parks Non-Profit Organization is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization that was founded in 2015 by two high school best friends by the name of Eric Andrews and D’Andre Riggins, both Eric and D’Andre are co-founders of the organization and began the organization after graduating college and returning home to see an abundance of vacant unused land across the city of Detroit. This was a problem both Eric and D’Andre aimed to solve. 

Peace Tree Parks was created with the mission to increase the access that Metro-Detroit residents have to fresh organic produce by converting vacant land into community gardens. To execute this mission, two programs were created: 1) residential garden program and, 2) community garden program. These programs work together and are designed to reach those in need regardless of race, age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Peace Tre Parks’ community gardens serve as a path to demonstrate and educate residents about gardening with the goal of encouraging residents to begin gardening themselves. Currently, Peace Tree Parks has three community garden locations and has taken ownership and converted 11 total vacant lots in the city of Detroit through partnering with the Detroit Lank Bank Authority. 

Peace Tree Parks currently has three staff members that help run the organization, Eric Andrews (Executive Director and Co-Founder), D’Andre Riggins (Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder), and Brianna Andrews (Director of Marketing and Communications). All projects completed by the organization are done with the help of community volunteers and community partners. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way? 

It has not always been a smooth road, it’s tough maintaining a growing organization while also having full-time jobs and families outside of the organization. It has been difficult finding balance but having community support makes it easier to accomplish the organization’s mission. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
To date, Peace Tree Parks has purchased 11 vacant lots that we own and have converted into community spaces. Currently, we have three community garden locations across Detroit, our Cooper St. Community Garden which is located on the east side of Detroit, our E Vernor Greenhouse which is located near Eastern Market in Detroit, and our 14th St. Community Garden which is located in the Core City area of Detroit. We also have a residential garden program, where we build gardens at the homes of residents across Metro-Detroit to encourage and educate them on the benefits of growing their own food. We have installed over 80 residential gardens in the backyards of residents across Metro-Detroit. We are most proud of our newly built 42-foot greenhouse grow dome at our E Vernor location, we were one of two grant winners to receive this dome which will help extend our growing season to a year-round operation. To support this greenhouse project, we were one of the recipients of the 2022 Michigan Department of Agriculture grant, and we also have gathered support from our community partners HAP, Foot Locker, Whole Kids Foundation, Amazon, Keep Growing Detroit, 1+1+, and others to support this ongoing project. We pride ourselves on building lasting relationships within the community and having our boots on the ground to have a direct effect on the communities we embed ourselves in. 

How do you define success?
Success is defined as setting goals and taking meaningful action steps toward accomplishing those goals. At times you may fall short, but as long as there is action being taken towards the goal, there is success in learning from your mistakes and making continual progress. 

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