October Newsletter

October 2019

We The People Opportunity Center

Message from The Director

Greetings WTPOC Community,

We The People Opportunity Center has seen many evolutions this past year. Here’s a brief recap of our history to bring you up to date. For the past three years our partnership with Grace Fellowship Church and the Community Family Life Center (CFLC) in Ypsilanti Township has provided fertile ground for our organization to grow and flourish. Although we were unable to secure the former Kettering Elementary School from Ypsilanti Community Schools as a future site, we’ve still gone from being  a community garden to ‘growing into’ a relatively small urban farm. This most recent season WTPOC provided fresh vegetables to nearly twenty partner organizations in our community. Our farm business is morphing into a vision for a nonprofit Opportunity Center where men and women returning from prison (or jail) can find hands-on training and stable jobs as they begin to restart their lives at home. I personally know how empowering it is to earn a living and contribute meaningfully to the community one lives in, and WTPOC is being developed to extend those opportunities to many others.  

In the last few months we’ve added new folks to our Board with a focus on creating internal financial and operational systems while re-tooling the returning citizens program. WTPOC is greatly appreciative of all the former board members contributed to creating a solid financial and programmatic foundation. We are committed to maximizing our impact and ensuring a stable plan that fits our vision for the future. Part of our internal capacity building involves a three-year strategic planning process to identify a long-term home for our farm and program operations that can grow in order to deliver on our mission, vision and strategic goals. We couldn’t have accomplished what we have without the support of many, including you, and we hope you will continue to be a member of the WTPOC community. Please join us at our Third Annual Harvest Festival of Thanks (details below) so I can thank you in person!  

With appreciation,

Melvin Parson

Helping Hands Days

Have you been looking for a way to support We the People in our efforts? We have some great events coming up and we’d love to have you join us!

Friday, April 5 we’re breaking soil for our 2019 planting. We need hands to help do some light clearing in the garden. We’ll also have members of The Henry Ford‘s Initiative for Entrepreneurship onsite interviewing and filming Farmer Parson.

Saturday, April 6 we have another Helping Hands Day at the farm and the day will culminate with our Soup Supper at Cultivate Coffee & TapHouse. We invite everyone from the community to come to Soup Supper and we’ll need some helping hands at that event as well.

We hope you can join us!

Farm Manager Position

Have organic farm management experience and want to be part of a growing urban farm that’s dedicated to helping returning citizens, youth, and the community? You’ve come to the right place!

Please see the description below for details.

Job Title: Farm Manager- We the People Grower’s Association/Opportunities Center


Manage all elements of diversified vegetable production at We the People Growers Association urban farm, while working closely with the Executive Director and Board of Directors on project execution.


Prepping Beds, Transplanting, Weeding, Harvesting, Trellising/Staking, Pest Control, Irrigation, Market Prep, Record-Keeping, and Volunteer Management.

Required Skills and Experience

3 seasons farm management experience or equivalent

The ability to carry up to 50 pounds          

Access to dependable transportation

The ability to work alone, with another person, or in a group, to complete complex tasks

The ability to squat, kneel, hunch over, and stand safely for long periods of time

The ability to complete tasks in varied weather conditions, including extreme heat, wind, and rain

The ability to work well with diverse staff, community partners, market customers, and volunteers          


Knowledge of organic, low till, small plot intensive growing practices.                                                     

Interest in food sovereignty, ancestral agricultural knowledge, and heirloom varieties.

Commitment to food justice, restorative justice, and racial equity work     


This is a 20-30 hour/week, seasonal position, from April 15 through October 15, or until the first freeze.


Pay is commensurate with experience. Working interviews will be scheduled in early April.

A goal of We the People Grower’s Association/Opportunity Center is to serve communities of color and historically disenfranchised groups effectively, and to do so we need staff that shares that commitment. Please provide an example of a project you contributed to in support of multicultural communities. What obstacles and opportunities did you encounter with that project?

To apply, please send your resume, answer, and one reference contact by Tuesday April 16, 2019 to wtpgagrowers@gmail.com

Catalytic Investment Award


Just wanna share a quick update with everyone!! AND give a BIG THANKS to Michigan Good Food Fund!!❤️ We the People Growers Association is a recipient of their Catalytic Investment Award!

Wanna also thank some of our other valuable community partners who have made a monetary “seed investment” in our work: Saint Joseph Mercy Health SystemUnited Way of Washtenaw County and Zingerman’s!👏🏾❤️ Thank you for your belief in the work!!

#BREAKING: We’ve earned a $25,000 award from the @MIGoodFoodFund to increase access to healthy food in Michigan. These awards are supporting businesses like ours that are catalysts in their communities: increasing healthy food access and sparking economic opportunity. Congrats to all supported projects!



2018 Harvest Festival of Thanks

The 2018 Harvest Festival of Thanks was a huge success!!

First I wanna thank Lindsey Jene Scalera for jumping in on short notice in the absence of our planned photographer!! Thanks Lindsey!…Job well done!!❤️

Also wanna thank and give LOVE to our planning team!!!…The job(s) they wonderful and were a testament to why the event was incredible on some many levels!❤️.
Thank you Yodit Mesfin Johnson❤️. Thank you Cathleen Haglund❤️. Thank you Sharman Spieser❤️. Thank you Peggy Cole❤️. Thank you Marcy Hoopingarner❤️. And last, but not least, Thank you Sarah Teare❤️.

Also I must thank the AMAZING volunteers!!! Without them there would have been complete chaos & helter skelter!!….

Thus a BIG shoutout goes to: Marie Davenport, Meija Knafl, April Renee, Alex Bennett, Sophia Sendo, Anna Lemler, Maren Spolum, Tyler Duncan, Hannah Crisler, Allie Criscenti, Carla Simmons, Jen Sopoci, Dara Thomson and Sandra Butler!!!! ❤️❤️❤️ I realize I’m potentially missing a couple of folks, so please forgive me!…Hey! I’m 54 years of age!

I also wanna give a BIG thank you to Emmanuel Jones and his organization, Mentor2Youth Inc.!❤️ AND to Lisa Voelker, Marisa Dluge and Riverside Arts Center | Ypsilanti, MI for providing both fun & engaging youth activities!❤️🎉

Again, I hope that everyone who was able to join us had a good time and that you enjoyed the event just as we enjoyed having you there!!❤️

I can’t wait till next year!!

Please enjoy the pictures!


We The People Growers Association: Harvest Festival of Thanks!

A gathering of gratitude!


Saturday, October 27, 2018, 12:00PM – 3:00PM
Grace Fellowship Church
1301 S. Harris Road
Ypsilanti, MI 48198

As a way to show our appreciation for all of our friends and stakeholders who helped WTPGA over this bountiful season, we will be having a Harvest Festival Celebration of Thanks. All are welcome!

We are excited for this opportunity to build community, and to introduce the next chapter in the WTPGA story. Because of what you all have contributed, the WTPGA has grown, and will now include a non-profit piece called We the People Growers Opportunity Center. We can’t wait to share our vision of how the Opportunity Center will help us continue to change the soil in the community and plant seeds of hope.

Join us at the Harvest Festival as we celebrate all of you! Food, live music, and entertainment will be provided!

You are not required to register to attend, but your RSVP is appreciated.