Thursday, April 23, 2009

DETROIT TURNS TO FARMING

Christian Science Monitor - The Greening of Detroit is encouraging families to work, visit, and harvest fresh produce. . . Urban gardens - 355 of them so far, [have been] planted throughout the 139-square-mile city. . .

The success of Detroit's urban gardens is more than just food production, however. It's about connecting people and restoring their confidence so that they can rebuild their neighborhoods. . .

The urban garden movement began in Detroit in 1992 when Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs, local labor and civil rights activists, envisioned a different future for the city since it was clear that industrialization was gone forever.

They founded Detroit Summer, a multiracial, intergenerational collective that works to transform citizens and their communities by confronting problems with creativity and critical thinking. . .

Each summer for the past 11 years, DAN has held a two-hour bus and bicycle tour to show off the community gardens to the public and to demonstrate how gardens are influencing larger issues such as reducing crime, cleaning up trash-strewn lots, connecting people to nature, nurturing leadership in citizens of all ages, and improving property values.

Preliminary plans for a newly developed urban farm within the city of Detroit will use vacant land and abandoned property to create Hantz Farms, the world's largest urban farm.

Phase 1 plans utilize more than 70 acres of underutilized vacant lands and abandoned properties on Detroit's lower east side.

Hantz Farms plans to grow natural, local, fresh and safe fruits and vegetables to help meet Michigan's increasing demand for locally grown produce. In addition to food and trees, Hantz Farms will harvest wind energy and utilize geothermal heat and biomass fuel from recycling compost.

Hantz Farms is working directly with Michigan State University to add its expertise on agricultural and soil sciences and consulting with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a national leader in community-based food systems.