Times are changing when it looks like there will be more veggies coming out of Detroit than Cadillacs. Post-industrial Detroit is the home of a growing sustainable living and community gardening movement! Detroit resident John Hantz, CEO of the Hantz Group, wants to build the “world’s largest urban farm.” The plan proposes to address persistent issues such as food security, blight removal, consolidation of city services and job creation!
When it comes to growing your own food, former basketball star and urban farmer Will Allen is shooting threes! CEO of Growing Power, Allen’s mission is to provide hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner! These systems provide high-quality, safe, healthy, affordable food for all residents in the community. He states his goal is simple, “to grow food, to grow minds, and to grow community.” Its Rainbow Farmers Cooperative of over 300 small family farmers viably generates produce and grass-based meats for distribution in Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee. Check out Will’s book The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities.
Besides beauty, rooftop gardens grow food and take carbon dioxide out of the air while releasing breathable oxygen. Plus they keep your house cooler and lower your energy bill!
Vertical farming is a concept that argues that it is economically and environmentally viable to cultivate plant or animal life within skyscrapers, or on vertically inclined surfaces. The idea of a vertical farm has existed at least since the early 1950s and built precedents are well documented by John Hix in his canonical text “The Glass House.”
Beacon Hill, Seattle will be home to the nation’s first food forest, a seven-acre permaculture project providing fruits and vegetables for anyone taking a stroll in the area. The Friends of the Food Forest, a steering committee for the project, have been adamant in involving the community in the process and they’ve also been successful at overcoming bureaucratic roadblocks that have squelched many a progressive community project. The food forest will be created according to the principles of permaculture, in order to yield a truly sustainable long-term system. Delicious edibles filling the forest include: blueberry and raspberry bushes, apple trees, vegetables, herbs and walnut trees. Food forest designer Jenny Pell said, “If Seattle could provide 5 percent of its food from within the city, that would be more than almost any other city in the world. Even places that are really committed get less than 1 percent.”
An aerial view of the project’s future site
So, if you are not sold yet, urban community farms would cultivate a habitat for a large variety of species that under existing conditions have a much harder time finding an ecological niche in the urban environment. This is a pretty significant factor in re-greening our cities! Urban-based agriculture would also greatly reduce traffic because there would be far less associated with the transport of food in our cities. Urban farming would also revitalize areas affected by urban decay, transforming ghettos into groves. Natural farming methods, Permaculture and no-dig gardening are great for building soil and are far less backbreaking than traditional farming methods and would be the foundation for employment of old and young alike. Just like these farming methods, we too need to learn to work with nature rather than against it!