Saturday, April 14, 2012
UNIVERSITY PROPOSES GREEN ACRES IN DETROIT
In a recent Detroit News article, representatives from Michigan State University have made a formal proposal to Detroit city officials regarding an urban agriculture research project. As conceived, the project would take over blighted, vacant land in the city and convert it into farmland. Among the objectives of the initiative are to explore the prospects of contemporary urban cities growing their own fresh food supplies, seeking to meet the needs of indigenous populations who have challenges in accessing healthy food. More here:
City leadership and some local activists have long been rigidly skeptical about urban farming. Among the concerns are prospects for locals to be hired for any jobs developed. Still yet, there are cultural and political challenges, as a segment of vocal Detroiters tend to openly equate any sort of urban-directed agriculture developments with sharecropping and slavery. To this author, such notions are baseless and reactionary.
A wealth of green-industry jobs can be initiated in the city of Detroit. Detroit can be a much ‘greener’ city than it is now. Creating new uses for land in the city is an absolute must. A recent Detroit News article identified agriculture as experiencing slight growth in the state of Michigan, despite the ongoing challenges of recession and unemployment. There are those who feel that an urban environment and farming can’t coexist. I disagree vehemently. I feel that there should be a City Department of Agriculture Development that encourages both large-scale commercial farming as well as smaller neighborhood-based farming communes. Schools in the city can also participate- especially with partnerships with state colleges and universities, they can have dedicated plots of land, where students can work on them for credit, especially during the spring and summer. Detroit schools can emphasize earth-science curriculums, leading to career fields as forestry, agriculture, urban planning, botany, new energy, and more. Age-appropriate green-industry jobs training for high school students, college students and non-student adults can be a long-term boost to the local economy.