Learning from Detroit—“Motor City” of all places!

We were copied on a brief message to city council today bringing attention to “World’s largest urban farm planned for Detroit.” It’s food for thought.

In some ways, the Detroit plan seems parallel to the urban agriculture proposals for the Garden City Lands. Evidently “Hantz Farms is working directly with Michigan State University to add its expertise on agricultural and soil sciences and consulting with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a national leader in community-based food systems.” That’s similar to the Richmond concept involving Kwantlen Polytechnic University and other organizations that willingly share their expertise and commitment to public service.

It’s thought-provoking that Detroit’s Hantz Farms is a business venture by a successful financial services company. Along with values for local food-security and quality of life, the company is emphasizing the economic value for Detroit and implicitly aiming for business success. While the Garden City Lands proposals have potential for the local economy, especially through agri-tourism, it has typically been viewed as a bonus. Here in British Columbia, where we are so conscious of the ecological, food-security, and social values, perhaps the economic values of urban agriculture on the Garden City Lands are worth a further look.

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