Detroit is known for many things, but least among them is farming. Until now.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has approved a plan proposed by a private company to turn acres of land it bought in the city into workable farmland to produce fresh food for the Detroit area.
John Hantz, owner of the developer Hantz Group, has been working for five years to buy up 1,500 parcels of vacant, city-owned land. Although Detroit city officials were concerned about selling Hantz so much land for so little money, the city council ultimately approved the sale by a 5-4 vote, with the proposal of using the land for urban farming.
Hantz Woodlands purchased the land for $500,000, but the company plans to invest an additional $3 million over the next three years. The first project will include removing trash and debris from the plots, and planting hardwood trees by next year. Fifty homes have to be razed and the land tilled and amended before food crops are planted.
The program could help to transform some of the poorest Detroit neighborhoods into sustainable farming centers and help mitigate the city’s food desert. If successful, Hantz Woodlands will have the option to buy 180 more acres in two years.