the Mission of urban roots is to cultivate healthy communities.


Urban Roots was founded in 2013 by Levi Gardner to explore the potential of urban agriculture as a transformational tool.

During those first two years, he grew on abandoned lots in the city, visited numerous urban farms, social enterprise organizations, and other holistic centers for social, ecological, and community empowerment throughout the country.  From visiting an urban farm on the South side of Chicago, to reading poets and authors discuss resilience and community, to spending one month learning about Permaculture in Nicaragua, he became convinced that the dominant models of singularly-focused non-profits could be molded into something more durable and resilient.

In 2015, following two years of urban farming and teaching throughout the city of Grand Rapids, Levi and his emerging team were privileged to move into the Madison neighborhood to begin our work there. With this move to one of the most disinvested and yet historically culturally rich areas of Grand Rapids, we began the true process of learning from our neighborhood and our city to develop this work in resilient ways. Additionally during this time, we established a board, crafted our guiding principles, and officially received our 501(c)3 status.

We are committed to a regenerative organizational model that fosters empowerment over charity, stewardship over dominance, and community over privatization. Our greatest teacher is among the soil, land, and plants that we grow. Where diverse species not only cohabitant amongst one another, but actually thrive because of their differences.

Through that constant listening and reflecting, we are committed to establish our organization as one dedicated not only to urban agriculture for the sake of growing food, but also as a place to engage in the fundamental act of what it means to be a human being.

Through building honest and rich collaborations throughout our neighborhoods and our city, our work can simultaneously be a platform for healthy food access, experiential pedagogy, economic development, ecological stewardship, community revitalization, and social empowerment.

Thank you for a successful 2018 season

View our 2018 Annual Report by clicking the image to the left!

We are so thankful our community partners, supporters, and hardworking team who gave their time, energy, and talents to make this wonderful year possible!

As our roots continue to grow in the Madison neighborhood, we are so glad that you are here to join us.

View our Annual Summary for 2017.

View our full 2017 Annual Report.