When I think of Detroit, whether or not this is fair, I think of abandoned buildings, vacant lots, decaying cars parked for decades and badly executed graffiti. But the city is considering an ordinance that could empower Detroit's citizens to change that image. Urban farming advocates are pushing for new zoning regulations that explicitly support agriculture within the city:
The draft Urban Agriculture Ordinance is expected to go before the City Council's advisory City Planning Commission later this month, and the council itself would then take up the ordinance in January.
Written with the advice of nonprofit community gardeners and advocates of large-scale farming, the ordinance puts no size limits on urban farms, and it permits the sale of produce through many avenues, from farm stands on the property to farmers markets and directly to public or private entities, either retail or wholesale.
If it passes, it will be easy for the people of Detroit to turn a lot of the city's abandoned spaces into productive land, and it will help the people already doing this avoid being shut down or punished. They're also looking into new ordinances "to allow for chickens, rabbits and bees to be raised in the city -- all of which are being done anyway," if this legislation and the following implementation goes well.
I've never liked the popular mental image of Detroit -- I know almost nothing about the city, but the degree to which it's maligned leaves me feeling like that reputation can't be fair, and for a while now I've wanted to visit the city to see how accurate the picture I have really is.
Knowing they're taking on projects like this makes me feel optimistic about Detroit's future -- I think urban agriculture is going to be a major necessity in the future of human cities, mass outside farming being expensive inefficient and damaging to the environment. Having spent the last several thousand years fighting nature out of our everyday lives, it's good to see that we're getting around to bringing it back into civilization. (On our own terms.)