Earlier this week, Detroit, a long-time advocate of innovative urban farming measures, opened its first commercial farm. Hantz Farms purchased about 3.5 acres of vacant land from the city, land that they will use to plant about 1,000 trees in the fall.
This is hardly the first project proposed by Hantz Farm. Earlier in the year, the farm suggested a 2,000 acre project in Detroit that would grow fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural goods. This plan has not yet been approved by the city council. The city’s reluctance has not stopped Michael Score, president of Hantz Farms, who still hopes to expand his urban farming plots to include food production.
Commercial urban farming remains a controversial subject in Detroit. Many people see it as a way to revitalize the city’s urban center. Detroit has long suffered from high unemployment and a crumbling downtown. In addition to high joblessness, the city currently contains countless acres of vacant land. Supporters of urban agriculture hope that commercial farms will make use of empty lots while simultaneously giving jobs to people who desperately need them.
Opponents, however, worry that urban agriculture represents a large-scale corporate handout. Many fear that these commercial farms will occupy and misuse municipal land for few benefits to city residents. In addition, they are concerned that commercial farming within city limits could have negative effects on city traffic (depending on how many farm vehicles are needed on urban plots) and pollution in local neighborhoods.
While the details of a large-scale urban farming movement remain to be worked out, Score and other farm advocates hope that this farm will serve as a model for future farms.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer