EAST LANSING, Mich. Transforming vacant urban lots into farms and community gardens could provide Detroit residents with a majority of their fruits and vegetables.
As city officials ponder proposals for urban farms, a Michigan State University study indicates that a combination of urban farms, community gardens, storage facilities and hoop houses greenhouses used to extend the growing season could supply local residents with more than 75 percent of their vegetables and more than 40 percent of their fruits.
The study, which appears in the current issue of The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, evaluates many aspects of the production potential of the Motor City's vacant properties, from identifying available parcels of land to addressing residents' attitudes toward blending agrarian traits with their urban lifestyles.
"What's clear from our production analysis is that even with a limited growing season, significant quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables eaten by Detroiters could be grown locally," said Kathryn Colasanti, the graduate student who led the study for the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU. "And investments in produce storage facilities and hoop houses would increase this capacity substantially."
As part of the analysis, MSU cataloged available land that had no existing structures. Using aerial imagery and the city's database of vacant property, researchers identified 44,085 available vacant parcels, which span 4,848 acres. To paint a more realistic picture, the database excluded land in and around parks, golf courses, cemeteries, churches, schools and more, said Mike Hamm, who leads the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems.
"Our totals are conservative," he said. "But it may be closer to representing the quantity of land more readily available for urban farms and gardens because these parcels are publicly owned and clear of any buildings.
|Contact: Layne Cameron|
Michigan State University