What I love most about painting is that its been around for literally thousands years and it never goes stale. The act of being an artist doesn’t change, but rather the external influences that impact the arts do. The creative process gets passed down from generation to generation maintaining its integrity. It is the burden of each new class of artist to use these lessons to adapt to the current challenges on their world. Our job is to honor and reflect the giants before us upon whose shoulders we stands, and to make enough of a contribution to the conversation of painting to inspire the next wave of creative youth. What defines each new era of artist is how well we can carry that touch, and take it to places never seen before.

I’ve spent time art school studios and on railway train cars, and I try to remember what I’ve learned from both when making art. The beautiful thing is as an artist actually have access to both all of art history and what other artist are up to today. We are in a profound moment in the development of mural painting. Not just aerosol paint, but the ability to be connected with other muralist all over the world in real time. How can you not be inspired when you see the stuff coming from people like Emily Ding, Kevin Burdick, or Nomad Clan? I’m just grateful that with the Flint Public art Project this hurricane of talent made a stop in my city. My job now is to try to catch up with these guys.

Asbury Farms is an ambitious undertaking based on the vision of turning once blighted land into a buffet of fresh fruits and vegetables. Asbury Farms sits in the middle of a community facing substantial food insecurity. And as a result of lead that was present in the public water supply for over a year before it became public knowledge, daily nutrition for our residents is crucial for keeping the negative affects of lead poisoning dormant. Asbury Farms is the fruit of one of Asbury CDC’s key strategic goals — to be a center for health and wellness.

In addition to moving our community from a food desert to an exporter of food, Asbury Farms also offers residents employment and a pathway towards creating employment for themselves. 

The strategy is simple. Create a farm incubator that makes it affordable for an enterprising person to learn, start a farm and earn a living. The Flint Farming Project provides the know-how, land, materials, equipment, seeds and transplants that otherwise create barriers for the people of our community.

Asbury Farms continues to expand. In 2019 we purchased the remainder of available lots at our Bennett campus that includes lots along Hamilton Avenue where we are expanding our strawberry production. Both of our campuses on the north side of Jane Avenue are in full production. Our main campus is now supported by a solar-powered irrigation system connected to a well as a water source. We have two additional hoop houses in production east of Minnesota Avenue and a third one under construction. This is a total of 11 hoop houses in production with 7 of them planted and winterized for cold crops to allow for harvesting year round. We have plans to build three hoop houses on the south side of Jane Avenue during 2020.

Asbury Farms is one part of Asbury’s response to the water crisis in Flint. Asbury has been a Water Resource Center since the beginning of the crisis, providing space for healthcare providers, bottled water, filters, other personal items, and food. “Nutrition is an important part of our strategy to combat the negative affects of lead,” notes Jim Craig, Board Chair at Asbury CDC. “ Asbury has been an advocate for nutrition in our community for the past nine years, but this is our most ambitious project ever.