A Jackson area native is bringing a food and culture mixed-use space back to his hometown with a venture called Project Channel.

Travis Crabtree, along with partner Salam Rida, will host a party on December 23 at their building at 133 Commerce Park Drive, just beyond Fondren’s western border off West Mitchell Street. The gathering hopes to introduce their concept to area movers and shakers and spark an interest in future collaboration.

“I would like for the future of the building to be a headquarters for urban agriculture, but right now, the thesis of channel is that of a mixed use incubator space that clusters culinary arts, entertainment, makerspace, and aquaculture together,” said Crabtree. “[We want] to foster creative outcomes for the urban food system and to experiment with a how it can create a unique spatial typology in the city through coupling these different programs.”

Crabtree, a University of Michigan graduate with a masters in urban design, said the project is an expansion of his post-graduate research, challenging the conventional food system. “I did a lot of research in Detroit, a postindustrial city similar to Jackson, that’s dealing with vacancy and blight,” Crabtree explained. “They’re focused on creating new forms of infrastructure geared toward food and water and what they can do to create cultural space around that.”

His building is a sizeable one, 15,000 square feet, “a big concrete box” he hopes to partition and offer maker spaces for artists in the neighborhood. Indoor aquaponics and hydroponic labs are proposed along with an exhibit space, plus a food truck courtyard.

Crabtree hopes to get universities and public school systems involved in what he hopes will be a “headquarters for urban farming in Jackson.”

“Everyone has a specific expertise,” he said, hopeful for strategic partnerships. “UMMC could do research on health and food systems. Jackson Public Schools could have programs or curriculum structured around learning while farming.”

Crabtree stressed his openness to work with others who are already facilitating and initiating other works of creativity and development in town. “I don’t want to step in and act like I know what’s going on,” he said. “That’s a huge issue in Detroit, with developers coming in, thinking they know what’s right. [Project Channel] is not competitive. I want it to be as collaborative as possible.”

Curiosity piqued? Ours, too. Attend the Channel House Party on December 23. Keep up with details on their Facebook event.

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