Michigan Urban Farming Initiative's new farm space keeps a mother's hope alive – and offers food and nutrition to other young children who live in the community
Fruits and trees represent life. Banika "Pinky" Jones, farm manager at the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, says that "life" is the best way to honor her missing daughter, Bianca Jones.
MUFI, an agricultural nonprofit in Detroit, is expanding its farm by buying two lots at its Brush Street location to create a memorial fruit and nut orchard for Bianca, who would be 4 years old in November.
"Instead of it being a memorial you can come and look at, it's a memorial you can be a part of," says Jones, whose daughter has been missing and presumed dead since 2011. "The best way to keep my daughter in people's thoughts, hearts and minds is not just a picture but a movement they can be a part of – bringing beauty to the space and life with trees, berries and nutrition for children in the neighborhood."
The orchard will have hazel nuts, walnuts, plums, cherries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. It also will have a koi pond, a zero-energy house called a Binishell and a mural of Bianca. The entire project will cost about $15,000 (that includes the land).
Tyson Gersh, MUFI's co-founder and president, says he is all for the orchard because it also meets the needs of the organization.
"It seemed like an appropriate way to acknowledge and honor (Bianca). We are trying to bring attention and respect to (Jones') daughter," says Gersh.
Jones says the project should be completed, bushes bearing fruit and all, in about 18 months. But they will need donations and volunteers. MUFI hosts volunteer workdays every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its urban farm grounds, located at 7432 Brush St. in Detroit. Jones says, "Nothing is more valuable than a person's time."
Jones, who has faith her daughter will come back to her, says, "This is something she would have loved to be a part of. I'm going to continue to do the things that I know she would love until she is here to do the things she loves with me."
Visit the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative to learn more about how you can help the memorial orchard.