Can arugula save bankrupt Detroit?
One plan envisions turning blighted lots into urban farms and creating thousands of jobs and millions in business taxes.
Among Detroit's myriad woes are the roughly 150,000 vacant and abandoned lots scattered throughout the bankrupt city's 139 square miles.
But where some people see blight, others see opportunity, Bloomberg reports. Turning some of the vacant lots into urban farms could result in as many as 4,700 jobs and $20 million in business taxes, a 2009 study projected.
The idea is being buoyed by Detroit Future City, a planning project created in 2010 to help boost the downtrodden city's fortunes. One of its goals is to encourage new land uses, such as community gardens and urban farming.
"Urban farms like large greenhouses offer a local, year-round source of fresh food, which allows a system-wide shift to local food procurement in Detroit," according to a report from the group. Local universities and hospitals, it notes, don't buy local food, because of its current unavailability.
The question is whether harvests of arugula and heirloom tomatoes can save Detroit, which filed an $18 billion bankruptcy last month. It lost more than 435,000 jobs in the metropolitan area from 2000 to 2010, Bloomberg notes. As automakers cut jobs, the region has also been hit hard by store closures from the likes of Starbucks (SBUX) and Borders.
The realities of urban farming, however, may squash Detroit's dream of getting bailed out by locally grown kale. Farming in a northern climate often includes higher costs because greenhouses are needed in the shorter growing season, Bruce Bugbee, as professor in the plants, soils and climate department in Utah State University in Logan, told Bloomberg.
Still, some people in Detroit look at urban farming as a way to create self-sufficiency, given the lack of city services.
"For all intents and purposes, there is no government here," Greg Willerer, the owner of Brother Earth Farms, told Bloomberg. He grows greens in a spot across from an abandoned house. "If something were to happen, we have to handle that ourselves."
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
Maybe they can raise some pigs too........ Then they can "show theirselves the bacon".
Quid Pro GROW...........
Nothing can save Detroit! I could see it coming in 1961 when I moved out.
I was born there and lived there 31 years,
Good Start but what we need is a 1000 years or so for the toxins to settle a few inches
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