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This Beloved Michigan Farm Supplies Detroit’s Most Popular Restaurants. It’s Also Struggling to Stay Afloat.

Hospitality workers are fundraising for Maple Creek Organic Farm. Plus, Detroit casino workers have authorized a strike.

Nighttime streetview of Greektown, Detroit, Michigan.
Nighttime street view of Greektown, home to the Hollywood at Greektown Casino
Stock Detroit
Serena Maria Daniels is the editor for Eater Detroit.

The Maple Creek Organic Farm in Yale, in St. Clair County supplies some of the most popular restaurants and cafes in metro Detroit. Helmed by farmer Danny Lutz, his list of clients has included Chartreuse, Freya, Marrow, Folk, Marrow, Saffron de Twah, the Apparatus Room, Ladder 4 Wine Bar, and more.

That’s all according to a GoFundMe campaign launched late last month by longtime Maple Creek volunteer Sheila Rutkowski. In the post she says that Lutz has been experiencing a series of competing setbacks — he’s been diagnosed with multiple types of cancer in recent years and unusually dry, drought-like conditions throughout much of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula have wiped out many of the crops that the farm relies on to stay afloat. At the same time, Lutz has contributed to a number of causes that aim to address food insecurity, including donating to established charities like Forgotten Harvest and Capuchin Soup Kitchen, as well as Saffron de Twah’s Community Kitchen — launched amid the throes of the pandemic. Rutkowski says Lutz’s growing pile of medical expenses and loss of crops — in addition to his typical costs associated with operating a farm — are calling into question whether he will be able to continue. “I am asking for the communities’ support financially, the once very successful organic farm is struggling,” read Rutkowski’s plea for support. As of Monday morning, the GoFundMe campaign has raise more than $4,500 from 66 donors, and has been shared on social media by numerous folks in Detroit’s restaurant community. The goal is to raise of its $40,000.

Casino strike

Employees at Detroit’s three casinos — MGM Grand Detroit, Hollywood at Greektown, and MotorCity — have voted 99 percent in favor of authorizing a strike, if deemed necessary by the worker negotiating committee. The vote came late Friday, according to a news release issued Friday, September 29 by the Detroit Casino Council. The council is made up of members of UNITE HERE Local 24, the United Auto Workers, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters — which represents most of the workers employed by the city’s three casinos.

Workers have been negotiating since early September, focusing specifically on securing raises, improving retirement, and protecting workers impacted by the use of technology. “Workers are fed up in an economy that is broken: costs keep going up, but when profits came back to the gaming industry, they didn’t go into workers’ pockets. Just like auto workers, Blue Cross Blue Shield staff, UPS workers, writers, and hotel workers, Detroit casino workers are considering all options available to make sure one job in a Detroit casino is enough to raise a family on. We expect the casinos to heed our concerns to avoid a strike.” said UNITE HERE Local 24 president Nia Winston in a written statement in last week’s announcement. The Detroit Casino Council’s worker negotiating committee could call for strikes as soon as mid-October when contracts are set to expire.