Building Agroecological Systems at D-Town Farm

Client Organization: 
Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN)
Project Location : 
Detroit, MI, USA
Summary of Project Idea: 

Goals & Objectives: 

Determine the best agroecological methods to address the severe aphid and cabbage moth problem on urban agricultural farms in Detroit

  • Increase D-Town farm production of brassica crops by controlling aphid and cabbage moth populations. 
  • Understand how other Detroit farms – are approaching aphid and cabbage moth – problems in their production cycles. 
  • Develop an educational network of Detroit farms using agroecological strategies on their farms where they can exchange knowledge on various agroecological methods for pest management 
  • Develop a user-friendly how-to guide on agroecological applications for management of aphids and cabbage moths on Detroit farms 

Theoretical Justification, Social Benefit, or Significance:

  • In order to increase brassica production at D-Town farm, which is one of the highest selling crops to Detroit consumers, a scientific strategy will be helpful in determining how to best manage pest populations. In addition, it is important that other Detroit area farms contribute their knowledge on what works and what hasn’t worked and benefit from suggested strategies to control these pest populations. 

Specific Activities & Duration:

  • Agroecological experimentation such as experimental plots assessing the factors of each experimental method.
  • Semi-structured and structured surveys o Focus groups o Given the scale of brassicas planted to meet consumer demand and the plethora of factors that impact controlling pest populations, this is a reasonable project for 4 students

Integrative Approach:

  • A variety of skills of needed to plan and implement this project: agroecology planting and pest management methods, qualitative data collection and analysis and non-academic data representation and publication development.
SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Behavior, Education, and Communication
Sustainable Systems
Role for each program area: 

Conservation Ecology: Agroecological pest management is important for conserving terrestrial ecosystems. Knowledge of agroecological systems and urban agriculture are needed to successfully complete this project.

Behavior, Education, and Communication: The transfer of knowledge among urban farmers in Detroit entails behavioral, educational and communication factors that are important to developing urban agroecologcial systems. Knowledge of behavioral, educational and behavioral theories and practices, especially among urban farmers, are needed to successfully complete this project.

Sustainable Systems: The sustainable management of terrestrial ecosystems are important in this project because pest management on “organic” urban farms requires a sustainability lens. Knowledge of how agroecological systems and urban agriculture intersect with social and ecological sustainability is needed to successfully complete this project.

Professional Career Development Benefits: 

Students will attain knowledge of urban agriculture in Detroit, it’s history and socioeconomic and sociopolitical orientations, as well as contacts of other urban farmers and urban agriculture organizations in the city. Students will also have the opportunity to present research findings at a general membership of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) as well as other organizational meetings with interested audiences. Networking opportunities with organizational funders such as philanthropists and governmental agencies may also be possible.

Identify expected products/deliverables: 


  • User-friendly how-to guide on agroecological applications for pest management on Detroit farms o Report on agroecological and qualitative data analysis 


  • The user-friendly guide will be distributed within and beyond the informal Detroit Agroecology network (or whatever name the group deems appropriate). 
  • The data analysis reports will inform D-Town Farm’s methods on pest management, specifically aphids and cabbage moths, to meet the goal of more successful brassica production.
Contact full name: 
Malik Yakini
Job title: 
Executive Director
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Ivette Perfecto
Contact Phone: 
Advisor Confirmed: 
Contact e-mail: 
Contact information: 
Staff member of a potential client organization
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Linnea Carver
  • Ardra Venugopal
Project Status: 
In Progress