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by Slow Food USA intern Carol Dacey-Charles

Detroit is currently home to 300 plus community farms and over 20 school gardens, and if John R. Hantz’s vision becomes real, Detroit could be home to the world’s largest urban farm—about the size of San Francisco. According to Hantz’s press release Phase 1 would redevelopment about 70 Acres of vacant lots, and abandoned property on Detroit’s lower east side.

Hantz is consulting with Michigan State University to tap their expertise in soil and agricultural sciences, as well as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a U.S. leader in community-based food systems. While the farm plans to harvest wind energy and use geothermal heat and biomass fuel from recycling compost—there are some ecological concerns. Hantz Farms would use conventional, rather than organic farming methods. You can read the full story as reported in the Detroit Free Press, along with a drawing of part of the proposed farm.

Urban agriculture is not new to Detroit. In fact, it started way back during the Great Depression of the 1890’s when then-mayor and future governor Hazen Pingree divvied up all vacant lands in the city, nearly 400 acres, for food production in support of the poor and underemployed.