Tag Archives: vacant lot

Once Blighted Trenton Lot Goes From Eyesore to Urban Oasis | Town Topics

FROM URBAN BLIGHT TO FARM: Planting is ongoing at Trenton’s Capital City Farm, a joint effort of several non-profit groups that has turned a trash-strewn lot into a verdant space designed to provide fresh produce and more to the local community and beyond.

While Capital City Farm is only in its first season, there are signs that it is having the desired effect. “People are curious,” Ms. Mead said, “especially those who come to the Soup Kitchen. Some teenagers from the neighborhood are excited about working on the farm. People are stopping by. It’s been an interesting thing to watch.”

Source: Once Blighted Trenton Lot Goes From Eyesore to Urban Oasis | Town Topics

Vacant Lots: Crowd-Sourcing The Sustainable Neighborhood | Earthtechling

What happens when you get everyday people thinking about the challenges that have occupied city planners for years — and give them the tools to do something about it? The City 2.0 project recently caught our attention for doing just that, and now we’ve seen nonprofits like the Network Center for Community Change in Kentucky and People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) in New York using this people-powered approach to tackle a key issue in creating sustainable, livable neighborhoods: vacant buildings and lots.

Network Center for Community Change, a community action group based in Louisville, has been mapping neighborhoods to identify vacant lots and houses that need renovation, along with more stable pieces of property. In so doing, it aims to help the community make decisions that better reflect local conditions and needs. Once these “opportunities for improvement” have been established, the group mobilizes residents and other stakeholders to work with municipal authorities in developing strategic redevelopment projects that will boost local property values, increase quality of life in the neighborhood, and/or create jobs.

Green Development Zone community garden

The Network started this Louisville initiative back in 2010 because it realized that official statistics concerning vacant properties in the area were often inaccurate, often by as much as 30 percent in either direction. Having accurate numbers, in terms of neighborhood vacancies, has aided the group in getting local elected officials on board with the development/redevelopment projects deemed most critical by the people who actually live and work in these communities.


In Buffalo, a related effort is underway with the Green Development Zone, a project of PUSH. This grassroots effort began with the intention of creating a new community economy in a blighted 25-square block area of the city’s West Side — which, like many urban areas across the country, was faced with deteriorating housing, hundreds of vacant lots, and fewer and fewer jobs for local residents. In 2005, residents discovered that a New York State housing agency was using these vacant houses and lots in Buffalo to speculate on Wall Street; the organization formed and proceeded to launch a militant campaign in response to this that resulted in millions of dollars for the state’s neighborhoods through New York’s Block by Block program.

Network Center neighborhood map

Using people power, PUSH was able to start rehabilitating neglected housing on the West Side. In 2011, those efforts paid off in widespread recognition, as the Green Development Zone initiative was one of three programs from a list of dozens of sustainable housing efforts around the world to win the award for Sustainable Housing: Collaborating for Livable and Inclusive Cities from Ashoka Changemakers, an organization dedicated to collaboration in the service of affecting global change.


Through this and other programs, PUSH has succeeded in insulating and winterizing older homes in Buffalo, developing new green affordable housing units, building the city’s first Net-Zero Energy House, and a major park renovation/improvement (created with widespread community input), as well as turning numerous vacant properties into community gardens and rain gardens.

A key tool used by both campaigns has been maps of vacant areas created based on reports from community residents. By creating publicly available maps of vacant areas in need of improvement, these community groups are paving the way to neighborhood improvement at the grassroots level.

via Vacant Lots: Crowd-Sourcing The Sustainable Neighborhood | Earthtechling.

Urban farm plan for Detroit’s near east side hopes to reel in cash, tilapia | MLive.com

Gary Wozniak regards his domain with the enthusiasm of an evangelist. Where most people would look at these wide expanses of Detroit blight and see dark despair, he sees nothing but gleaming possibilities.


WHAT DO YOU SEE?: Gary Wozniak stands in the abandoned Detroit municipal garage where he plans to install an indoor tilapia operation, partnering with an Ohio company looking to expand. The graffiti will stay. (Bridge photo/Nancy Derringer)

“This is the center of the farm,” he said, gazing over the corner of Warren and Grandy on Detroit’s near east side at a vacant lot waving with overgrown grass on a windy spring day. Not long ago, it was where Northeastern High School stood. Today, it’s ground zero in an agreement Wozniak hopes to make with Detroit Public Schools and the city to convert it to one of the city’s most ambitious urban agriculture projects — one that will eventually encompass everything from organic fruits and vegetables to an indoor tilapia farm in an abandoned municipal garage.

Yep, you read it. Fish, farmed, in a garage, in Detroit.

Wanna see more?

Hops growing on trellises surrounding an abandoned factory? Sure.

Plastic-wrapped hoop houses yielding fresh spinach in the midst of a Michigan winter? Why not?

And all of it to be run by recovering addicts — providing stability, job training and income, in a self-sustaining model.

“The farming is really a small piece of the pie,” said Wozniak. “I’m really interested in food-system development.” That is, creating new, shorter lines between where food is grown and where it’s consumed, mitigating such related headaches as pollution and poor nutrition.

It’s almost insanely ambitious, but the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation of Bloomfield Hills recently announced a four-year, $1 million grant to RecoveryPark, the umbrella  organization for Wozniak’s plan. RecoveryPark is, technically, a redevelopment project, but what a redevelopment.

In a three-square-mile piece of one of the city’s most abandoned neighborhoods, Wozniak proposes taking it more or less full circle, bringing back not just farming, but 19th-century farming – labor-intensive, small parcels, minimal processing. Not giant combines and acres of soybeans, but food, healthy food, for people.

“This has really made me see the ‘power of we’ like never before,” Wozniak said.

via Urban farm plan for Detroit’s near east side hopes to reel in cash, tilapia | MLive.com.