- 150 acres of land is being transformed as part of a bid to stabilize the bankrupt city’s downward spiral
- The land, in the centre of the city, once had over 1,000 houses and is now abandoned
- They hope the new farm will help surrounding homes keep their property values level
- Plans are to start by planting trees, then raise crops and even livestock in the future
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 15:52 EST, 24 November 2013 | UPDATED: 19:52 EST, 24 November 2013
The city of Detroit is planning to transform 150 acres of what once was a gritty neighbourhood to the world’s largest urban farm.
The plan, spearheaded by private company Hantz Woodlands, is part of a move by the bankrupt city to stabilize the area’s downward spiral and help surrounding homes and businesses keep their property values from falling further.
Woodlands plans to start by planting trees, but hopes to raise crops and even livestock in the future, right in the midst of the once-proud city.
Transformation: Detroit is planning to transform 150 acres of what once was a gritty neighborhood to the world’s largest urban farm
Decay: Many of the parcels held dilapidated and abandoned homes and buildings and were condemned by the city, while others were rubble-strewn or weed-choked lots. Soon it will be green farmland
‘We are interested with moving into different types of agriculture,’ Mike Score, president of Hantz, told FoxNews.com.
Hantz needed approval from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to buy up the 1,500 parcels for approximately $450,000 in total, or $300 per parcel.
Many of the parcels held dilapidated and abandoned homes and buildings and were condemned by the city, while others were rubble-strewn or weed-choked lots.
The company intends to spend $3 million to clean out the areas.
Score says that once the sale is complete, his company will spend the winter clearing 15 acres to plant 15,000 trees during the first phase. They also intend to add orchards further down the line.
Big plans: The private company, Hantz Woodlands, snapped up the abandoned lot in the Motor City’s East End and plans to turn it into the largest urban farmland in the world
Dreams of a better future: They hope the move will help the area stabilize its economy
Not everyone is a fan of turning such a huge swath of Detroit into a farm.
The proposal, which barely got by the City Council by a razor-thin margin of 5-4, was met with criticism from local residents and even agricultural groups in the area.
‘I think there’s concern in this transaction,’ said Nevin Cohen, a professor of Environmental Studies at New York’s New School, who has been monitoring the plan.
‘Replicating a community farm is not as important as addressing issues of race and class concerns – which underlie Detroit’s problems,’ he said.
Community reactions: Some of the community do not agree with the move, saying it takes the focus away from racial and class issues
Against the farm: The Detroit Black Community Food Service, which runs large community food-garden D-Town Farm, near Rouge Park, opposes the Hantz proposal
The Detroit Black Community Food Service, which runs large community food-garden D-Town Farm, near Rouge Park, also opposes the Hantz proposal.
Community gardens like theirs have sprung up around the city, with backers saying it gives local residents a stake in their own neighborhoods – as opposed to a giant farm run by outsiders.
The founder of the company, John Hantz, originally had a vision to transform the even more rundown areas of the city into a fully functional, large-scale farm, but civic law forced his company to scale back their ambitions.
Tight victory: The proposal barely got by the City Council by a razor-thin margin of 5-4, but it will go ahead
‘[John Hantz] has been exploring urban farming opportunities for years,’ Robin Boyle, an urban planning professor from local Wayne State University, told FoxNews.com.
Despite political red tape preventing larger-scale farming in city limits, the DIY garden farms spread throughout the area have helped the city begin to fight back against urban decay.
‘They are growing food, but they are also working on combating structural depression,’ Cohen said.