MSU AgBioResearch, MSU Extension Bringing Breadth, Depth of MSU to Bear on Detroit's Revitalization

Dec 7, 2016

MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension “have been collaborating for over a century, and they continue to partner to help address some of the most complex food, energy and environmental issues of our time,” says Greening of the Great Lakes host Kirk Heinze as he welcomes AgBioResearch director Doug Buhler and MSU Extension director Jeff Dwyer to the program.

The two entities have been collaborating recently by exploring the Center for Urban Food Systems initiative in Detroit.

“The system allows us to build on work we’ve been doing with others in Detroit who care a lot about urban agriculture and who are trying to find ways to develop it,” says Dwyer.

“As we look at the resource base in Detroit, a lot of what we would describe as undisturbed sites is where the gardens are now, but now how do we reclaim the old industrial sites and neighborhoods, all of which are different,” says Buhler.  “And how do we put together a research program that develops principles that people can use to reclaim this land in a productive way and also not put people at risk for contamination.”

“We really think this is an opportunity to bring the breadth and the great things that a university like Michigan State University does and can do and bring more of that to Detroit and Wayne County,” adds Dwyer.  “We certainly have a number of talented people already in Detroit and Wayne County, and I think the Detroit Center for Urban Food Systems will give us the opportunity to bring even more and to do even more.”

“And if you look at the potential that Detroit has just because of the amount of open land, it really creates some opportunities that are pretty unique compared to a lot of other parts of the world and major cities,” Buhler says.  “And the simple fact is that we know Detroit has really made a move, and really a lot of the state of Michigan is different than it was a generation ago.  We see the food, agriculture and natural resource piece being an important part of that to fill in and create some really interesting opportunities, particularly as young people are very interested in moving back into the cities and being in walkable communities and having local foods.  And that fits in with what we’ve been doing for a long time.”

The trio discusses MSU’s presence at Eastern Market and Michigan ArtShare.

Michigan ArtShare works directly in communities to create and provide opportunities for artists and musicians to create and share their work in their neighborhood and throughout the state.

The group talks about MSU’s role in Michigan’s emerging chestnut and hops industries, too, and about an effort to connect with Michigan’s veterans.

Greening of the Great Lakes airs inside MSU Today Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on AM 870.