Massive Self-Sustaining Urban Farm to Replace Detroit Blight

Massive Self-Sustaining Urban Farm to Replace Detroit Blight

Gardening isn’t just for people living on farms or in suburban neighborhoods with sprawling lawns. As more people seek to beautify their urban living environment and grow their own organic food, urban gardens are springing up around cities all over the U.S., and the world.

Detroit is taking this one step further by transforming 22 blocks of blight on the east side of the city into a massive urban farm. The 60-acre farm will be known as “RecoveryPark,” will consist of 35 acres of city-owned property and other land purchased for the project. It will house a vast set of greenhouses and, at its 3-year mark, is expected to employ some 120 people. The project will cost about $15 million.

RecoveryPark already operates 2 urban farms where fruits and veggies like radishes, greens, and edible flowers are grown and then sold to restaurants in the city. [1]

The city of Detroit is lined with empty buildings that often revert to the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA). Some houses go for a piddling $500 in an effort to bring young people into the fray to rebuild and revitalize the city. Many buildings, however, have little chance of being purchased and put into use. [2]

So the idea of an urban farm beautifying the crumbling landscape, potentially providing locally grown produce to Detroit restaurants and bring jobs into an area of the country with crippling unemployment numbers could be a dream come true. Even more so when you consider that the effort is a non-profit venture that will supposedly help ex-offenders who need a second chance at life.

“We are not just transforming property. We are going to transform lives,” Mayor Mike Duggan says. “They are taking the hardest to employ folks in our community and putting them to work on land that had been long abandoned and forgotten.”

There’s just one little hitch in the plan: Detroit doesn’t have $15 million to spend on such a project. The rest of the funds still need to be raised in order for the project to move forward. The property would be leased by the DLBA to RecoveryPark for $105 per acre.

This spring, Land Bank spokesman Craig Fahle says 3-5 acres of high-tunnels, or hoop houses, containing all dirt-based growing, will go up. In the future, RecoveryPark hopes to have a minimum of 20 acres of hydroponic growing and high tunnel growing. [3]


[1] Detroit Curbed

[2] Modern Farmer

[3] The Detroit News

Featured image rendering via the City of Detroit.Chene-Ferry Market photo via Detroit Urbex