Monday, January 04, 2010

Detroit Links: Can Farming Save the Motor City?

1. Video: Detroit in RUINS!





On the city's east side, where auto workers once assembled cars by the millions, nature is taking back the land.  Cottonwood trees grow through the collapsed roofs of homes stripped clean for scrap metal (see photo above and there's more here). Wild grasses carpet the rusty shells of empty factories, now home to pheasants and wild turkeys.

This green veil is proof of how far this city has fallen from its industrial heyday and, to a small group of investors, a clear sign. Detroit, they say, needs to get back to what it was before Henry Ford moved to town: farmland.

"There's so much land available and it's begging to be used," said Michael Score, president of the Hantz Farms, which is buying up abandoned sections of the city's 139-square-mile landscape and plans to transform them into a large-scale commercial farm enterprise."Farming is how Detroit started," Score said, "and farming is how Detroit can be saved."

3. Front page story from yesterday's (Sunday) Washington Post, "A Hard Downshift in Detroit: Poll of Detroit residents finds grim conditions but optimistic outlooks."

12 Comments:

At 1/04/2010 3:30 PM, Blogger smacklin said...

Just rename it Starnesville and get it over with.

 
At 1/04/2010 4:14 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Ahhh yes, another shining example of the voters getting the government they deserve...

Hmmm, it won't get any better for Detroit or the rest of us in 2010 either...

 
At 1/04/2010 6:58 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

This proves much of what life after people on the history channel says, that if we abandon an area nature will take over. Another example is the land between the lakes in KY and TN it was farms until the 1930s and away from the road it is back to nature. Actually Detroit was most once farms, just like Flint was. Both could grow sugar beets, as well as corn, drive to Frankenmuth from Flint and you see what the land is capable of. So in one sense the land is more useful than the land in the other great crash area of Mi, around Houghton and Handcock which is not good ag land but is good forest land. (It provides a view of what happens to a city in MI after the boom is over, the copper boom in this case)

 
At 1/04/2010 7:33 PM, Blogger OA said...

I hope they'd consider non-food crops. Maybe paper or lumber trees, bamboo, something like that.

Eating produce grown in a formerly industrial area doesn't sound so appealing. Even if formerly residential, there's likely to be higher lead or chemicals that got into the ground over the years. And there's going to be no way to test all the soil for chemical hotspots.

 
At 1/04/2010 7:41 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

I would not do produce because MI is not a really good produce area due to the short growing season. To get an idea what can be grown drive west of Ann Arbor, or thru Adrian MI and look at what is grown there. Detroit is on excellent lake bottom soils and given the years some of the land has already been vacant a good bit of the contamination would be gone already. Flint yes for Lumber, that was its first boom before the auto boom, the Saginaw/Flint river valley had good virgin timber in the 1850-1880 period.

 
At 1/04/2010 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That will work until the farmers form a union.

 
At 1/04/2010 9:05 PM, Anonymous Brandon said...

Cause farming is working so well in the rural areas of our country in terms of profit...

 
At 1/04/2010 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they can get land in Dtroit for under $2000 an acre, farming might be profitable there, eventually.

HYDRA

 
At 1/05/2010 1:08 AM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...

I wonder what Detroit would look like without free trade?

 
At 1/05/2010 7:08 AM, Blogger rjs said...

cleveland would be better for farming because proximity to the lake extends the growing season a month...

 
At 1/05/2010 7:36 AM, Blogger sykes.1 said...

No doubt the farm laborers will be Mexican immigrants, both legal and illegal. With the environmentalists shutting down Californian agriculture, there should be an ample labor supply and demand for the crops.

 
At 1/12/2010 6:39 PM, Blogger Steve said...

If you do a little Google Earth shot over to Detroit you can see that what is being shown here is really kind of tame. Detroit is much worse than he shows us. Whole swaths of urban area are empty and the patches that aren't empty contain little beyond burned-out hulks. Grab and address in Google Earth and zip over to Zillow.com and see a house that is worth a few hundred dollars. Incredible.

Personally I think that the farming idea is a great one. It has so many positives. And, strangely enough, it is a completely free market solution. The very lack-of that killed Detroit in the first place. But I'm sure the city government, unions and Governor Grenholm will figure out how to queer this resurrection too.

 

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