FoodLab started in January 2011 with a handful of good food entrepreneurs gathered around a kitchen table to talk about how we could support each other and contribute to Detroit’s growing good food movement. Since then, the group has grown in reach and intention. In our first year, FoodLab members hosted a series of gatherings on how to develop our fledgling businesses along good food principles. We wrote our first charter, established a steering committee, and worked with partners on ad-hoc projects.
In August 2011, five volunteers began to plan our first bootcamp, “Building Your Good Food Business” (now called BASE). We saw need for a course that provided practical business tools and embraced our values. We also wanted to reach out to more entrepreneurs of color and strengthen relationships with allies. The response to the series was powerful. It was a space where “foodies” (mostly young, mostly white, often new to Detroit) learned alongside generational Detroit residents and food activists (mostly older, mostly people of color). Participants built new relationships, strengthened practical business skills, and deepened their understanding of triple-bottom-line business design. They found joy in belonging to a community that put relationships and the planet first, and also understood the day-to-day demands of starting and running a food business.
In Fall of 2013, we held our first membership drive, where we welcomed over 50 Founding Members to the FoodLab family. As the community expands, we continue to adapt our strategy, design new projects, and grow relationships between members and with allies.