Image from Hantz Farms Detroit; link to their site within linked article

While many of us grow the occasional tomato or strawberry in our yards or window boxes, a movement that has taken rise over the past few years called urban farming, taking domesticated food sourcing to a whole new level.  Also referred to as urban agriculture, its the practice of cultivating food and vegetation (on a larger scale than previously described) in urban areas.

When the trend first started, it primarily took place in spots that had been abandoned and were often already headed back towards a natural state- at least it appeared that way to those who chose to start farming there.  But as the practice grew in scale and popularity, concern of both the positive and negative sprung up:  Could this be the answer to the re-use of under-utilized land?  Will this increase produce availability in “food deserts”?  Will more trees in the city have a large impact on pollution?  Is contamination a factor?  What about land ownership, particularly in cases of abandonment like we’ve seen in areas like Detroit?

For many, this isn’t new territory- its a topic that has been gone over so many times it feels like old hat.  But when new government decisions come in to play, it becomes more than a way to casually reuse the old lot next door and opens the door to economic reinvestment.  In the new decision in Detroit, controversy has broken out over the selling of 140 acres to the Hantz Woodlands project.  In this case, the outcome isn’t food for the local community, but a commercial tree farm.  How does that change the stakes, the impact on the locals?  In a city constantly struggling with ways to deal with the over-expansion of the 40’s and 50’s, tough decisions like this can make or break a community, and the trust in the local government.