Kate Daughdrill: Sowing Seeds, Building Communities
Kate Daughdrill (College ‘07) was planting seeds long before she became one of Detroit’s most celebrated urban farmers/artists. In fact, many that she planted at the University and in Charlottesville have become fixtures on the unique and vibrant cultural landscape here. Kate is a gifted artist whose work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Cranbrook Art Museum, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Fred Torres Collaborations, the Art Gallery of Windsor, and Kunstverein Wolfsburg. It was Kate, along with her friend Sam Bush, who first had the idea that a tiny detached garage in the heart of downtown Charlottesville could become one of the area’s favorite music venues. Today, The Garage continues regularly playing host to local, regional and even national acts. After leaving Charlottesville for graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Kate brought her passion and vision to her new home, gaining national acclaim for Detroit SOUP, a monthly soup dinner that funds microgrants for creative projects in Detroit. The organization began by hosting groups of 20. Before long, the events drew more than 200 participants each month and awarding grants of $800 to $1,000. At a time when so many fled the financially-troubled city, Kate decided to literally put down roots. She began to experiment with urban farming by utilizing empty lots in her own neighborhood, and saw the powerful impact it had on community building. Weekly dinners on a cinder block grill, including pizza literally topped off by the home grown ingredients all around them, brought neighbors together and planted the seed of another idea for Kate. And this one involved a garage, too. The Edible Hut is a gathering space in a public park in the Osborn neighborhood in Detroit. It’s a living sculpture made from a repurposed Detroit garage that features an edible roof. The Edible Hut was created and is sustained by residents, organizations, artists and schools and serves as a forum for conversations about issues and topics vital to the lives of the community’s members, including health and well-being. It also serves as a vibrant hub for the arts and free expression, hosting a variety of music and spoken word events and generally strengthening the fabric that binds people together, and Daughdrill and
her collaborators are currently working on a book designed to show how the project has impacted its participants and inspired important discussions throughout Detroit that can serve as a model for others across the country.