Fields of Opportunity: Farming Detroit


Large scale farming could help bring blighted property in Detroit back to life. Several groups are working to turn large tracks of abandoned property into profitable commercial farms.

It might not have been what Detroit city planners were thinking about half-a-century ago during better economic days but as the city's population and its tax base continues to shrink, some are seeing green amidst the blight.

One of the green entrepreneurs is Detroit investor John Hantz. He's putting up $30-million over the next 10 years to build a 100-acre farm. Hantz Farms president Mike Score says the project is intended to show that urban agriculture can be successful and sustainable.

"We can be a production center that is profitable and creates sustainable jobs. We can succeed as an education and tourism facility so schools and universities now would have an applied laboratory for learning. And then we can succeed on the global stage. Be an innovator for urban agriculture and actually attract visitors from around the world."

Score says the farm is in the process of buying land in Detroit. He says environmental assessments could be done later this year.

"Once we get our environmental information back, we'll develop a site plan for our farm. Which sites are suitable for food production and which sites are better suited for forestry or other types of agricultural production."

Score and other supporters of urban farming in Detroit says it's also the best way to get the city's 40-square miles of abandoned or blighted property back on the tax rolls, and redefine the urban space in the city.

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