Thursday, June 25, 2009

Growing the Shrinking City

Following up on the proposed plans for the 'shrinking' city of Detroit, I was excited to see this link from City Farmer News announcing plans for Hantz Farms, set to be the 'World's Largest Urban Farm' using a patchwork of vacant lands on the lower east side. John Hantz, CEO of Hantz Farms explains: "Detroit could be the nation’s leading example of urban farming and become a destination for fresh, local and natural foods and become a major part of the green movement,” said Hantz, a Detroit resident. “Hantz Farms will transform this area into a viable, beautiful and sustainable area that will serve the community, increase the tax base, create jobs and greatly improve the quality of life in an area that has experienced a severe decline in population.”


:: image via City Farmer News

The first phase of the project will plant 70 acres of vegetables and could be operational within six months. The farm will be operated by a Detroit resident, Matt Allen, who explains the potential: "The combination of land consolidation, blight removal, conservation of city services and the beautification of the city itself are just some of the byproducts that will come from our commitment to urban farming,” Allen said. “We’re very excited to be able to make strides in helping to make Detroit a progressive, world-class leader in providing fresh, locally grown food that’s safe and purely Detroit.”


:: image via Hantz Farms

I'm so curious to see the actual proposal for the farm, as we definitely explored some of the challenges and issues during the SDAT last fall in doing this. Not easy, but also not hard, given the pattern of development and multiple benefits that can be had from this scale and type of land use. It's great to see the Detroit-driven initiative taking hold and beginning to realize the potential - as I've mentioned, the opportunity for Detroit to redefine urbanism for the 21st Century is there, and it looks like it's starting to take root.


:: image via Hantz Farms

Read more about this proposal at the Hantz Farms website.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely a no-brainer of a plan. By using so much of the vacant land as a farm, it will become that much easier for the city to build "critical-mass" areas of smaller, more manageable dimensions for redevelopment/re-population. It's nice to see that there is room for creativity in Detroit - unlike other cities...

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