Community Spotlight- Growing Hope/Julius Buzzard
When Julius Buzzard, Executive Director of the Ypsilanti-based nonprofit Growing Hope, talks about the B2B Trail as a “really critical community asset,” it comes with a lot of credibility. Julius has dedicated his career – and life – to community impact. As much as anyone, he deeply understands the importance of safe and accessible local spaces and the value of community work. To him, the B2B Trail is not only a place to get in his weekly runs along the Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor corridor close to home, or after a drive out to Dexter, but is also “a place to bring people together in a safe and equitable way.”
Julius has long been passionate about creating positive change through his work, and especially in his hometown of Ypsilanti. His drive for place-based community impact – coupled with his lifeline love of gardening and farming that started in his grandparents’ large gardens as a kid – led him to his current role at the helm of Growing Hope. With a mission to foster an equitable and sustainable food system where all people are empowered to grow, sell, buy, prepare, and eat nourishing food, the organization makes a difference in the lives of Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County residents everyday.
If you’re not familiar with Growing Hope, you probably should be. And you’re two decades late to the party. Celebrating an amazing 20 years of existence in 2023, the organization operates an urban farm in downtown Ypsilanti where they grow produce, provide educational opportunities through farming, and give all of their food back to community through their food cart, while also running two Ypsilanti Farmers Markets and overseeing an incubator kitchen for local food-based small businesses.
When describing his passion for his work, Julius talks about things like “local,” “healthy,” “equitable,” “bringing people together,” “taking care of each other.” These are words and phrases he used to articulate the amazing work that Growing Hope does – but, as Julius points, could all be used by someone describing the importance of the B2B Trail, as well. “Community assets like the B2B Trail, and local organizations like Growing Hope and so many others, are truly what makes this area special,” he says. And is why he chooses to call it home.
If you want to learn more about the impact Growing Hope has in Ypsilanti and surrounding communities, and support their work, check out the two Farmers Markets they operate – the Depot Town Farmers Market at 100 Rice St, open on Saturdays, and the Ypsi Area Online Market, with pickup on Tuesdays from 3pm-7pm at 16 S. Washington Street – both open every week from now through October. You might even see Julius there with his daughter after their commute from their home to the market along the B2B Trail.