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Agriculture…in Detroit

For most of us, the general trend that we observe is urbanization. Farmland becomes settled as residential, commercial, or industrial areas, and then perhaps becomes more large scale.

We rarely think about the trend going the other way. But if you look at the course of history, it happens a lot.

And it’s happening today in the city of Detroit, Michigan:

After years of debate, the Hantz Farms urban agriculture project in Detroit could become reality with Mayor Dave Bing hoping to present a plan to City Council this summer to sell a collection of vacant city-owned parcels that could be used to grow and harvest timber.

This has to overcome several obstacles. One of them is governmental:

Mike Score, president of Hantz Farms, said the tree-planting project known as Hantz Woodlands is allowed under the city’s current zoning code. But before the project could plant agricultural crops or sell any produce, the city would have to approve a new zoning change to permit agriculture in the city.

There are various other impediments. Local groups who want to do the same thing are asking why “a wealthy white man” is getting this opportunity. State prohibitions on over-regulating farmers rub the city government the wrong way, because it doesn’t want limitations on its power to (over-)regulate.

Now this might not be the solution in all areas. There are abandoned tracts all over the place, but they could host residents and businsses in a few short years. In this case, however, the solution appears to be warranted. The city of Detroit has held some of this property for over 35 years, and the selling price for 175 acres is $600,000.

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