Urban farms can help plant seeds for cities’ growth around them


Click image to see larger file. Photo: Michelle and Chris Gerard. On two acres within Detroit’s North End, the Michigan Urban Farm Initiative grows 300 varieties of leafy vegetables that it distributes free to 2,000 families who live within two miles of the farm.

In Detroit, an “agrihood” takes shape.

By John Caulfield
Building Design And Construction
December 20, 2017


Integrity Building Group is AOR and provides architecture services and construction for the farm. One of MUFI’s partners, Sustainable Brands, will debut the CRC and café at its conference in Detroit’s Cobo Arena next May.

“Cities are the future, but we can’t just rebuild the same inefficient buildings of the past,” says John Beeson, LEED AP BD+C, EBO+M, a project manager with Catalyst Partners in Grand Rapids, Mich., which is supervising these reconstructions for MUFI. “The question we’re trying to answer is whether we can do urban infill better.”

Tyson Gersh, MUFI’s cofounder, says that while urban redevelopment “was not on our radar screen at first,” it has become a priority, partly for political reasons, but also because “it’s hard for an urban farm to justify itself on its own.”

Gersh observed “quite a few people” who were buying blighted homes around the farm. (He’s identified at least $3.5 million in purchases so far.) Several of those new owners told Gerson they wouldn’t have heard of this neighborhood were it not for the farm.

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