Monday, December 28, 2009

Farming Detroit

Investors see farms as way to grow Detroit
Acres of vacant land are eyed for urban agriculture under an ambitious plan that aims to turn the struggling Rust Belt city into a green mecca.
By P.J. Huffstutter
December 27, 2009

Reporting from Detroit - On the city's east side, where auto workers once assembled cars by the millions, nature is taking back the land.

Cottonwood trees grow through the collapsed roofs of homes stripped clean for scrap metal. Wild grasses carpet the rusty shells of empty factories, now home to pheasants and wild turkeys.

This green veil is proof of how far this city has fallen from its industrial heyday and, to a small group of investors, a clear sign. Detroit, they say, needs to get back to what it was before Henry Ford moved to town: farmland.

"There's so much land available and it's begging to be used," said Michael Score, president of the Hantz Farms, which is buying up abandoned sections of the city's 139-square-mile landscape and plans to transform them into a large-scale commercial farm enterprise.

"Farming is how Detroit started," Score said, "and farming is how Detroit can be saved."

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One thing that is absolutely right about this idea is that the origin of wealth is the land. So if you want to rebuild wealth, using the land is the best way to do it. Even though it’s sound in principle, there are a lot of hurdles to jump over in order for this to be successful. If their goal is for this land to provide locally grown food, then their biggest challenge will be producing and selling it at a price that is affordable for an economically challenged area.

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