Detroit, which filed an $18 billion bankruptcy July 18, is reeling from the loss of more than 435,000 jobs in its metro area from 2000 to 2010, according to federal data.
Greg Willerer is embracing urban agriculture in Detroit. By selling at farmers markets, local restaurants and a community-supported agriculture project that sells his goods directly to consumers, Willerer said he can make $20,000 to $30,000 per acre in a year.
This has left it with an abundance of underused property. The city is spread over 139 square miles and has an estimated 150,000 vacant and abandoned parcels, according to a report this year by Detroit Future City, a planning project created by community leaders.
Converting some of that land to farming could clean up blight and grow jobs, regional officials say. With sufficient consumer demand and the emergence of a local food-processing industry, 4,700 jobs and $20 million in business taxes could be generated, according to a 2009 study.
“It will help,” said Mike DiBernardo, an economic development specialist with Michigan’s agriculture department. “We have so much blighted land that we can create opportunities for entrepreneurs, and we can give people in the community something to be excited about.”
via Detroit foodies promote urban farming as way to fight blight, grow economy | Crain’s Detroit Business.
“Thank you for notifying the community about vacant land! I pass the lot on Myrtle between Marcy and Nostrand very often, and I always enjoy looking at the herbs and wildflowers growing there. I thought it would be a wonderful spot for a small urban farm, but I figured it might have been owned by whoever owns the condos surrounding it. You taught me different.” Email recieved on July 1, 2011, about 10 days after labeling the lot in question.
596 Acres is helping neighbors form connections to the vacant public lots in their lives.
Hundreds of acres of vacant public land exist in New York City, hidden in plain sight behind chain-link fences in neighborhoods where green space and other public amenities are scarce. We are building the tools for communities to get the keys legally and unlock all these rusty gates—and the opportunities within them. These include:
(1) making municipal information available through an online interactive map;
(2) placing signs on vacant public land that explain each lot’s status and steps that the community can take in order to be able to use this land;
(3) visioning sessions for education about public land holdings by invitation from community groups;
(4) engaging the community when an interested potential leader reaches out; and
(5) direct advocacy with New York City agencies.
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/35546744 w=400&h=300]
via 596 Acres: About Us.