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Agrarian Detroit, Your Harvest Home

According to a study by Michigan State University researchers, the city of Detroit could harvest 75% of the vegetables and 40% of the fruit that it needs for residents right within city limits.


(Detroit, a farming community)

Detroit is tearing down the metal and concrete of industry and apartments, and revealing the good earth.

“Our totals are conservative,” Mike Hamm, a professor of sustainable agriculture at Michigan State University told the New York Times. “But it may be closer to representing the quantity of land more readily available for urban farms and gardens because these parcels are publicly owned and clear of any buildings.” The Michigan State University study considered 44,000 empty parcels of land owned by the city totaling 5,000 acres (excluding parks, golf courses, rights of way and private property), and then applied the national produce consumption levels to arrive at their estimates.

Philip K. Dick foresaw the Detroit 'agrihood' in his 1954 short story The Turning Wheel:

Below his ship, the barren countryside spread out, ugly and bleak. Great red spots that hadn't yet been overgrown, and slag surfaces were still visible - but by this time most ruins were covered by soil and crabgrass. He could see men and robots farming; villages, countless tiny brown circles in the green fields; occasional ruins of ancient cities - gaping sores like blind mouths, eternally open to the sky. They would never close, not now.

Ahead was the Detroit area, named, so it ran, for some now-forgotten spiritual leader...

He dropped his ship down. An open field lay to his right; a robot farmer was plowing with a metal hook welded to its waist...

Update 03-Apr-2023: This image of the once-mighty Motor City reminds me very much of the fall of Trantor, the ruling center of the galaxy in Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation trilogy from the 1950's:


(Farming Trantor in 'Second Foundation' by Isaac Asimov)

Trantor was a world in dregs and rebirth. Set like a faded jewel... it alternately dreamed of past and future...

Until the decay of the Empire eventually reached it... its drooping powers had been bent back upon themselves and broken forever. In the blasting ruin of death, the metal shell... wrinkled and crumpled into an aching mock of its own grandeur.

The survivors tore up the metal plating and sold it... for seed and cattle. The soil was uncovered once more and the planet returned to its beginnings. In the spreading areas of primitive agriculture, it forgot its intricate and colossal past.

End update:

Via NYtimes.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/18/2010)

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