This article from the L.A. Times covers an interesting proposition: Hantz Farms is buying up abandoned city properties in Detroit, with plans to convert them to large-scale commercial agriculture use.
The idea is that they will put "pods" of land scattered throughout the city's neighborhoods back into production, whether by growing rows of organic lettuces where the soil is good, trees for biofuel where it's less good, or even mushrooms in abandoned factory buildings. Hantz officials predict that the demand for locally produced agricultural products will make this venture more profitable than other real estate options in the downtrodden Rust Belt city.
The article cites numerous hurdles, including existing zoning and soil contamination, but it certainly makes you think. Vertical farms became an inspiring idea at a time when it seemed like land prices would never fall again. In cities where economic recovery will come slowly at best, can the traditional -- horizontal -- farm find its place in the urban core?
What a phenomenal project. Much has been written about young artists moving to Detroit due to the low cost of residential and commercial real estate.
It gives me hope to think that that type of migration combined with this type of agricultural venture could transform Detroit's future - and perhaps serve as a model for other urban efforts?