MSU names director for Detroit’s first urban agriculture research center

Detroit resident Naim Edwards provides vital connection between Detroit urban agricultural community, neighborhood organizations and MSU research opportunities

May 14, 2018 - Author: , ANR Communications & Marketing

Naim Edwards
Naim Edwards, Director of the Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation

EAST LANSING – Naim Edwards has been named the director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation, MSU’s first urban research center.

Edwards will coordinate programming and conduct public outreach to help develop solutions to economic and nutrition challenges in urban communities as well as forge community partnerships in and around Detroit.

A Detroit resident, Edwards has spent several years as an integral member and advocate for the city’s burgeoning urban agriculture community.

“Naim brings a strong vision and fresh approach to the Detroit center, and he will be the point person in connecting MSU’s vast research and outreach community to Detroit’s urban agriculture stakeholders, neighborhoods and community organizations,” said Jeff Dwyer, director of MSU Extension.

“Downtown Detroit has seen a resurgence and transformation over the last several years, and the neighborhoods have focused on blight and cleaning up abandoned houses,” Dwyer said. “Our goal, however, is to focus on the health and growth opportunities for neighborhoods throughout the city.”

Edwards will be joined by fellow MSU Extension educators and researchers in southeast Michigan to provide education including soil sampling and pollution cleanup, pest and crop disease management, forestry, innovative growing systems and community food systems development.

The center is located at the site of the former Houghton Elementary School in the Riverdale neighborhood, near Brightmoor. Although this is the university’s first urban-based center focused on food research, MSU Extension offers educational opportunities at 13 other AgBioResearch centers throughout the state as well as at numerous locations in every Michigan county. The new center will host the fourth MSU Extension office in Detroit. Offices at the Eastern Market, YouthVille and Focus Hope will continue to serve area residents.

Edwards most recently served as an environmental specialist for the City of Detroit, helping the city navigate development and environmental assessments, and ensuring the city could better support both public health and environmental quality for its residents.

Previously, Edwards worked as an outreach coordinator for Voices for Earth Justice, managing programs and the upkeep of the grounds at Hope House in northwest Detroit. He has also played key roles for community organizations and initiatives including Keep Growing Detroit, Vision Keepers: Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit and the D-Town Farm BioBlitz while also spending time in Ecuador as a member of the Peace Corps. He received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Morehouse College and a master’s degree in science from the University of Michigan.

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