Posted by Tom Boyden in Urban Agriculture on December 20, 2012
Urban agriculture builds the foundation of many communities and has the potential to support many more. For-profit corporate businesses may say they are community-oriented, but simply put, they are for-profit. A focus on profit will, more often than not, leave community out of the equation.
Now that the Detroit City Council has finalized its decision on the acquisition of some 2000 public lots by Hantz Group for under $600,000, there are many questions from urban farmers and Detroit residents that have yet to be answered. In the coming months, Hantz may show the usual side of corporate America; or, he becomes a leader in Detroit and the America’s urban farming movement. At the moment, all we can do is speculate, but Hantz’ intentions have many thinking that the people of Detroit’s best interests have yet to cross his mind.
“Hantz Farms: Detroit’s Saving Grace”
Rather Borlaugian isn’t it? I am not a Detroit citizen, but through communication on social media, I can assuredly say that the people of Detroit are not looking for a savior. Revitalization of Detroit will be community-driven, not by a single person or farm. The people have been slowly beautifying Detroit through art and urban farms without the need to grab a massive amount of land at a thrillingly cheap price.
What right does Hantz have to declare his farm the silver bullet in solving some of Detroit’s most apparent problems?
Hantz Group states on their website’s front page that beautification will occur through: “Oaks, maples, and other high value trees planted in straight, evenly spaced rows.” High value trees should include fruit trees.
Trees are great, I like ’em, but a few years ago almost all of Detroit was stuck in a food desert. The Detroit residents, specifically minority and low-income families, desire quality and easily accessible food NOW. High value trees make it sounds like a development towards “high value” condos and apartment complexes. Hantz Farm seeks to gentrify the area for the good of the people of Detroit.
Gentrification > displacement of families
This so-called saving grace could displace many families located on the public plots. These families may find another home.
Minority communities around the country have laid foundations through community gardens and organizations, yet continue to be uprooted and fractured. These fractures often leave a gaping fissure in the community, leaving wounds unable to be mended.
Rest assured though, a group of rich white men will wholeheartedly care about black and other minority communities!
Com’on, these trees are obviously for the people to enjoy. Not for lumber or anything. . .nope, definitely for the people, by the people. They do plan on planting vegetables as well, but the tress man, they are KEY.
Luckily, Detroit passed the Urban Agriculture Ordinance before the world’s largest urban farm began plowing it’s way through Detroit’s vacant lots. Though, this could be a double-edged sword; enabling community gardens to gain ground, but also encourages larger farms such as John Hantz’.
Whether Hantz’ goal is to gain “Agricultural land tax exemption and Federal farming grants,” revel in owning the world’s largest urban farm, or become the savior of Detroit; the people and urban farmers of Detroit will continue to fight for what is right for their city.