Last year, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder finally approved a plan to allow Hantz Woodlands to buy and transform 150 acres of empty or decrepit Detroit lots, and turn them into the world’s largest urban farm. The Detroit urban farming project has since made great progress, and could serve to inspire other cities to do the same.
If you’ve read one story about Detroit, you’ve pretty much read them all; the once-great city formerly known as the car capital of the world has fallen onto hard times. With less than half of its peak population left, massive tracts of land have been left to decay and be reclaimed by nature. This has allowed small urban farming initiatives to pop up, prompting some to suggest this is a great way to make something out of Detroit’s plight.
Enter John Hantz of the Hantz Woodlands, who proposed a plan to the Detroit City Council to buy 1,700 parcels of land at a low price, and convert them into one single, massive urban farm. The council hemmed and hawed, but finally approved the Detroit urban farming plan by a single vote. Since then, Hantz and his company have worked hard to clear the land and make it suitable for growing trees, flowers, as well as edible fruits and vegetables.
This summer the first phase of the plan kicked into high gear, with Hantz Woodlands planting 15,000 trees spread out across 20 acres of the 150 acre parcel. The idea is to recapture some of the natural beauty of the Detroit area, while creating a self-sustaining and self-funding urban farm.
Detroit may have fallen on hard times, but the implementation of innovative urban renewal and transformation strategies like this one may be able to help it climb back to the top!