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Cookin' Up Food Justice at People's Kitchen Detroit

Located in the Cass Corridor Commons of Detroit, People’s Kitchen Detroit (PKD) hosts skillshares on everything from canning to gardening, making yogurt and nut milk to DIY herbal medicine. Their mission is to co-create a safe and inclusive space where Detroiters can share empowering skills to prepare healthy meals, learn holistic health care, and secure or grow local food. PDK builds community strength through food security, activism and a deeper connection to the Earth. They are supported by a project called CHIRP that aims to fight childhood obesity and other diet-related health issues and much of their work revolves around low income families.

Making nut milk at DIY Dairy & Fermentation Skillshare, courtesy of People's Kitchen Detroit

Their cookshares enable participants to share recipes and healthy cooking skills while taking home food for a small donation for food costs. Collectively sharing the work of planning, sourcing, preparing and cleaning, cuts costs and time spent in the kitchen, maximizes nutritional content, and supports local communities and economies.  PKD director Angela Newsom says, “One of the foundations of a community kitchen, like PKD, is the intention to bring people together around food."

Orienting Kids to the Kitchen Skillshare, courtesy of People's Kitchen Detroit

In the spirit of solidarity, PKD is working on licensing their kitchen to offer off-hour to  affordable commercial kitchen space rental to sustainable, small food businesses. Rent is on a sliding scale and timebanking is an option for using kitchen space through volunteer service to People’s Kitchen. They are also raising funds to turn a bus into a veggie-oil powered, mobile community resource center and kitchen. It will be used to procure local foods to distribute them to community kitchens and organizations, and to take their programs on the road to other communities that want to share skills.

DIY Dairy & Fermentation Skillshare, courtesy of People's Kitchen Detroit

This month they hosted the first of four skillshares in a Summer Herbalism Series on Plant Preservation & Medicine Making as part of a Shareable seed grant. Health educator, Triana Kazaleh Sirdenis, lead the class through plant preservation techniques, making sure to use wildcrafted plants efficiently and safely. Opening with an introduction to Western Herbalism, they dove into plant storage and medicine-making techniques. Participants were able to smell, taste, touch, and familiarize themselves with healing plants and learned hands-on how to make tinctures and infused oils. The next three skillshares, focused on Ethical Wildcrafting, a Summer Medicinals Plant Walk, and Herbal First Aid, will be hosted at People’s Kitchen Detroit’s Healing Garden and a local park.

Plant Preservation & Medicine Making Skillshare, courtesy of People's Kitchen Detroit

PKD definitely knows how to mix in fun with serious learning. I had the pleasure of attending their April Food Justice Fridays in collboration with the Cass Corridor Commons partner organizations and sponsored by the Detroit Food Justice Task Force. Many young artists were in attendance at this donation-based, health conscious soul food dinner. The talent was off the hook, from a soulful folk pianist to a radical poet collective, called Black Tie.

Food Justice Fridays at Cass Corridor Commons, courtesy of People's Kitchen Detroit

I don’t how they manage to cook up so many awesome programs in one kitchen, but community seems like the secret ingredient. One thing is for sure, every city could probably could use a People’s Kitchen.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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