With a dusting of fresh snow still clinging to car windows, it’s hard to believe spring has officially sprung in the Detroit area. But sprouting from frosty bushes and still-icy farmlands are rows of fresh spring vegetables ripe and ready to be enjoyed as soups, salads, and sides. Mark Covington, president and director of Georgia Street Community Collective, says cold-weather crops are ready for picking at his community garden on Detroit’s east side.
Here, he shares the crops flourishing in Michigan already and those to come later on this spring. Plus, a tip on supporting local farmers who might be impacted by the recent restaurant closings due to the COVID-19 crisis — though Georgia Street is a nonprofit collective and offers all produce to the community free of charge, Covington acknowledges the farmers who rely on sales to restaurants that are facing challenges amidst the pandemic. “Get in touch with your local farmers. Most of them are still growing and selling,” Covington says. “I know Eastern Market is still open because it’s an open-air market. Buy local if possible. Find your closest urban farmer and support.”
On in-season crops
“Cold weather crops, like spinach, lettuce, and collard greens are being planted now. Kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, too. Some farmers have been growing throughout the winter in hoop houses so a lot of leafy greens are available right now. And sprouts — don’t forget sprouts! Rising Pheasant Farms grows sunflower shoots and micro-greens, which are available now, too.”
On Georgia Street’s most popular spring vegetables
“Our neighborhood and community wants collard greens. That’s our biggest request — that and tomatoes. They almost never let the tomatoes grow to be red. They want to make those fried green tomatoes!” [Tomato season typically begins in May.]
On vegetables that grow later in the spring
“You’ll start seeing more collards and kales — all the brassicas will be born. You’ll see carrots and even garlic start to sprout. We plant garlic in the fall.”
On washing your produce.
“Vinegar. Fill a bucket or your sink with cool to warm water and add half a cup of white vinegar and rinse your produce. Some people I know just spray vinegar directly on their fruits and vegetables.”
Georgia Street Community Collective, 8902 Vinton Ave., Detroit; 313-458-7052; georgiastreetcc.com