Detroit Reaping Economic Development Benefits from Urban Farming

Urban farming has taken root as Detroit transforms. Now, farmers and entrepreneurs must continue to find new ways to profit from the city's new farming business model.
July 7, 2014, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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A new business opportunity is growing alongside Detroit’s estimated 250 acres of tomato plants, cornstalks and trees," reports Michael Martizen. "The city’s estimated 1,400 urban farms and gardens have created new markets for farm loan banks and equipment companies that supply them with everything from seed and fertilizer to compost and tractors — just as they’ve done for years with Detroit’s rural counterparts throughout the state."

Despite some early successes, like the Hantz Woodlands, the industry is still figuring out how to respond to the unique situations of much of Detroit's urban farming capacity: "But doing business with Detroit’s urban farmers will require some adaptation on the part of equipment rental companies. Most farms and gardens in the city are 3-5 acres, or smaller, so they don’t need huge machines. And some farmers already share tractors and other equipment among multiple sites." Moreover, "[some] believe the equipment rental companies and farm banks are hesitant to partner with some smaller farms because they’re still trying to understand Detroit’s new industry."

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Published on Saturday, July 5, 2014 in The Detroit News
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