The Michigan Engineer News Center

CEE Alumnus is co-founder of urban farming initiative

CEE Alumnus Darin McLeskey is co-founder of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI). | Short Read
EnlargeDarin McLeskey
IMAGE:  Darin McLeskey

MUFI is a nonprofit organization that seeks to engage members of the Michigan community in sustainable agriculture.

McLeskey says that an urban planning course encouraged him to think about using some of the stalled neighborhoods and idle land in Detroit for agriculture. He adds that his CEE education gave him the technical background and management skills needed to budget and build.

The idea for MUFI formed at a Detroit Partnership day, where U-M students volunteered for service projects in Motor City. It was there that McLeskey met future MUFI co-founder Tyson Gersh, a U-M Dearborn student. They both expressed an interest for Detroit agriculture and realized they could work together.

McLeskey says that Gersh has a humanities and community involvement background, which complements McLeskey’s engineering education. MUFI has grown to include about eight board members, with a mix of technical thinkers and community organizers.

The MUFI values are education, sustainability and community. The website states, “By viewing urban farming and gardening as an educational opportunity we are hoping to provide a long term solution to the problem of food insecurity in urban areas.”

The current main focus of MUFI is on the development of a Community Resource Center located in the North End of Detroit. The property for the center, a three story complex, has been purchased.  MUFI plans to restore the distressed structure and turn it into a place that will foster sustainability and urban renewal.

Other projects include a demonstration urban farm outside of the center, which will feature a greenhouse, livestock, hoop houses and more; and a shipping container building to store farming supplies and serve as a model for sustainable living.

To learn more about MUFI, please visit

Darin McLeskey
Jessica Petras


Jessica Petras
Marketing Communications Specialist

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

(734) 764-9876

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