Detroit Rake City: Urban Ag in Motor City

Way back in March, I blogged about a plan to turn Detroit into an urban ag mecca. Now The Atlantic has an interview with John Hantz, the man behind this ambitious plan:

You've proposed taking a several hundred-acre swath of blighted homes and abandoned lots and turning it into a proving ground for large-scale urban agriculture. Not exactly your schoolyard or community garden.

You have to think about Detroit in a different way. A lot of times people think about urban farming and say, "There's not even an open piece of property within two hours of my house," or, "I don't want to lose that park." But this farm takes into account the reality of Detroit--it's a city with 200,000 tax-delinquent parcels, controlled by one of the state's three land banks, and upwards of 30,000 abandoned acres. Given the sheer size of Detroit, you could fit multiple big cities inside.

There's just an excess capacity of land. How do you come up with a positive way to dispose of it, but in a way that attracts people? The farm starts with that basic concept. Now it's not cows, pigs, and chickens. It's almost all produce. But it also isn't just tomatoes or lettuce--it includes forestry and different beautifying techniques.