Organic Consumers Association

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How 'Gardening While Black' Almost Landed This Detroit Man in Jail

A black man started an urban farm in his old neighborhood. Three white women called the police repeatedly, accusing him of threatening them. The case went to court.

For nearly two years, a man tilled an overgrown park in a half-abandoned Detroit neighborhood into a tiny urban farm, filling the earth with the seeds of kale and spinach and radishes. He was black.

For half of that time, the man, Marc Peeples, 32, was the subject of dozens of calls to the police — the allegations growing more serious with each call — by three women who lived on a street facing the park. They were white.

Mr. Peeples said he returned to the neighborhood where he grew up to create a garden that could help feed residents, chip away at food deserts and teach children about urban horticulture — a personal redemptive mission after three years in prison on drug charges.

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