Detroit has a considerable amount of publicly-owned vacant land - no big surprise. The big question; What to do with it? One option that is up for discussion is to use some of this land for urban agriculture. Proponents of urban farming and gardening contend that more locally grown produce will increase residents' access to food and utilize the land in a productive way.
According to a report, “Growing Food in the City: The Production Potential of Detroit’s Vacant Land,” which the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University released this summer, the City of Detroit owned 31,123 parcels of vacant land amounting to 3,598 acres, by the end of 2008. Vacant land owned by the City of Detroit, Wayne County, the State of Michigan, and the Wayne County Land Bank totals 44,085 vacant parcels amounting to 4,848 acres.
One of the questions the report sought to answer was; “Is it really conceivable for urban farms and gardens to contribute to the urban food supply in any significant way?” This report concludes that the answer is yes.
It “presents a summary of research on the possibilities and desirability of food cultivation on the publicly-owned vacant land in Detroit,” the report states. Aside from presenting a “catalog of vacant land,” it examines “how season extension techniques and post-harvest management would impact this availability,” including things like hoop-houses, as well as the impact of “biointensive growing methods,” the “desirability” of urban farming based on public feedback from interviews and focus groups, and more. A particularly interesting piece of this research looks at “Local Production Capacity” in Detroit, which determines how much of the city’s “annual vegetable or fruit consumption...could be supplied through local production given season constraints,” in different production scenarios, the report reads.
Jennifer Eberbach is a professional journalist and writer. Find contact information on her website www.jenthewriter.info