Monday, July 12, 2010

Downsized Detroit Becomes Beacon of Urban Farming

One-third of Detroit's land area has been depopulated, leaving "abandoned houses, vacant lots and vacant factories," according to a story in the Guardian UK. Swaths of razed house lots are being taken over by city residents and farmed in small plots for vegetables, fruits and bee-keeping. There's even a million-dollar 40-acre commercial farm near the downtown that has begun operations. Most of the food is grown cooperatively and is available to neighbourhood residents for free at harvest time. The coop gardeners are worried about the takeover of their plots by commercial farming and have formed their own coalition of cooperative gardens to protect their right to farm. Thus far the two business models are doing well side-by-side. A short video by the Guardian interviews a cooperative farmer and a bee-keeper. The video is interesting because it encapsulates the growth and decline cycle of what was once a sprawling metropolis, and it shows that people can survive both ends of the cycle. Interestingly, Los Angeles has begun a Transition movement that is doing the same kind of work. While LA has not experienced the same kind of decline as Motor City, Detroit has become a model for dealing with urban de-growth and decline which some expect to be a common occurrence in other large US cities.

The resurgence of urban farming in Detroit was the one of the central solutions put forward at the US Social Forum which was held in Detroit in June, 2010.

Declaration adopted by the Ecojustice People’s Movement Assembly at the US Social Forum, in Detroit, June 2010:

"Detroit is a window into the future. Through this window we see an inspiring site of deeply grassroots and living visions of a just and democratic community. Community resistance to corporate polluters in Detroit, including oil refineries, coal power plants and the world’s largest waste incinerator, continue to hold the frontline against the destruction of the planet. Meanwhile resistance to such corporatization strategies such as predatory lending, water privatization, prisons and police brutality are matched with equally powerful models of resilience; such as community gardens, cooperative economics, freedom schools and transformative justice. Detroit can be a model of the Just Transition to sustainable communities that we require; one in which exploitive jobs that cause ecological devastation and compromised health are replaced with meaningful work in our own interests; restoring our labor and our resources to the web of life."

1 comment:

  1. I am very interested in finding up to date information as to how urban farming in Detroit is evolving.

    Kind regards