Urban agriculture in Detroit

An article in the LA Times describes how Detroit may be turned into one big urban farm, with food crops, trees grown in areas where the soil is too toxic for food, and mushroom or hydroponic crops inside old buildings.

In Detroit, hundreds of backyard gardens and scores of community gardens have blossomed and helped feed students in at least 40 schools and hundreds of families.

It is the size and scope of Hantz Farms that makes the project unique. Although company officials declined to pinpoint how many acres they might use, they have been quoted as saying that they plan to farm up to 5,000 acres within the Motor City's limits in the coming years, raising organic lettuces, trees for biofuel and a variety of other things.

Detroit has a long history of agriculture, and these days, adding additional local food sources could be a very good thing, providing fresh produce for a city where

there are no major grocery store chains, and more than three-fourths of the residents buy their food at convenience stores or gas stations, the idea of having easy access to fresh produce is appealing.

"There is real potential for this to work, because land prices in Detroit are low and there's a demand for local food," said Bill Knudson, an agricultural economist at Michigan State.

It could provide jobs for the many people who are unemployed, but city officials point out there are potential problems:

Their concerns include figuring out who would pay for cleaning pollutants out of the soil and removing utility infrastructure, such as gas and sewer lines; how to rewrite the city's zoning laws; and how to adjust property tax rates and property values to allow for commercial farming.

Things to consider wherever urban farming happens.

via Worldchanging.

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