A City Tale: From Mighty Industrial Metropolis to Urban Blight to Idyllic Farms
In Detroit, where square miles of blighted urban lots are commonplace today, one entrepreneur launched a company to buy lots, clean them up, and convert them into luscious urban farms for profit. A Michigan State University report thinks it’s an idea worth pursuing:
“As city officials ponder proposals for urban farms, a Michigan State University study indicates that a combination of urban farms, community gardens, storage facilities, and hoop houses – greenhouses used to extend the growing season – could supply local residents with more than 75 percent of their vegetables and more than 40 percent of their fruits.”
A third of the land in the city of Detroit is vacant, and much of it is city-owned due to non-payment of property taxes. Hantz Farms is strategically investing $30 million to control up to 10,000 acres where they’ll work the land and keep it open to the public – it will be kept part of the community and neighbors can walk or ride their bike through the lots.
Urban farming on abandoned lots or on city rooftops is spreading around the world and happening in communities in New York, Chicago and more. In fact, Hantz Farms is routinely contacted by groups looking for guidance and education to replicate the process in their own cities.
Nonprofit Food Pantries: Start Farms, Teach Farming…
Leads to a Healthy Community
In a small 250 square foot indoor farm the Child Development Support Corp. (a New York City food pantry) grows enough fresh greens to feed hundreds of families each week!
As with many examples where people take personal responsibility, they tend to make decisions that provide better and longer lasting solutions.
The families at this food pantry have a renewed sense of ownership, and have access to fresh, nutritionally dense foods. Plus, the food pantry hosts regular workshops and training sessions on how to grow food at home.
“People feel very passionate about this farm; they’re eating better… They come with a different attitude; it’s all about healthy eating,” said Mireille Massac, who runs the food pantry and farm.
Other area food pantries are learning from their experience and planning to start their own indoor farms as well.