There are a ton of urban possibilities in Detroit. It is no secret. There is no other place in the country that has such a grand infrastructure. Detroit has so much city-owned and delinquent land that urban farms are popping up on every corner. Farmers are coming from all over to be a part of the movement. There is a plan in place to make the world’s largest urban farm. However, Mayor Duggan (the mayor of Detroit) just announced an even bigger project: a $15 million, 60-acre urban farm.
We do not really need to go into the history of Detroit and its current state, do we? We all know the city is suffering. It has been broadcasted all over the news. When we are talking about urban farming, the Detroit area has an excellent climate for seasonal agriculture. The city also has plenty of available land. That is where the pessimistically named Recovery Park comes in.
Michigan has more than 50,000 farms, most of which are single-family owned. The city of Detroit has an excess of land that at the moment reverts to what the NPR calls “a quasi-governmental agency” called the Detroit Land Bank Authority. The city also retains the rights to abandoned property. Those properties are sometimes sold at low prices to youngsters hoping to try turning a $500 house into something that is livable. Many others sit in limbo without a purpose or any prospective buyers.
Urban farming is an industry that is growing. Are you surprised? I’m not. Recovery Park, a nonprofit, runs a program called Recovery Park Farms, which is for profit. Alongside Mayor Mark Duggan, Recovery Park announced the ambition plan last week to create a 60-acre urban farm. It will be settled with greenhouses and hydroponic systems for specialty produce. Recovery Park operates a small portion of urban farms growing vegetables and edible flowers and selling them to local restaurants.
This plan is trickier, partly because Detroit doesn’t actually have $15 million to give to Recovery Park to set up an urban farm. The Detroit News reports that Recovery Park has $1 million of that already and will have to somehow raise the remainder to achieve its goals, which include 120 employees (60 percent of whom will have to be from the Detroit area). It’ll be a tricky process; the land Recovery Park has will have to be cleared of any houses still on the lots, and the new headquarters (the currently defunct Chene-Ferry Market) will need a complete renovation.
But the land is secured, and the project has the approval of the mayor, which means full steam ahead! Or partial steam ahead, maybe. Either way, Recovery Park plans to break ground in spring 2016.