Great article!

Commercial farming to start in Detroit with 1,000 trees!

Two years after it was proposed, the Hantz Farms project is evolving into Hantz forests, at least for now.

Detroit’s first proposed commercial farming enterprise will plant about 1,000 trees, mostly oak saplings, this fall on 3.5 acres of land purchased from the city. The land is behind the Hantz Farms headquarters at 17403 Mt. Elliott on the city’s east side.

The tree planting is a much smaller project than the 2,000 acres of food crops Hantz proposed two years ago, a plan city officials have yet to approve. Michael Score, president of Hantz Farms, said talks continue over a variety of possibilities, including getting larger tracts of land on which to plant more trees or fruits and vegetables.

Large-scale urban agriculture remains a controversial idea in Detroit. Many see it as a way to make vacant land productive, create jobs and build the tax base. Critics worry that commercial farming represents a land grab by corporate interests or can lead to problems from farm trucks creating noise and pollution in neighborhoods.

Score’s staffers have cleaned up the lots at the Mt. Elliott site, removing 430 dumped tires, 150 cubic yards of trash and hundreds of cubic yards of brush.

“We’ve been good neighbors,” Score said. “We try to keep up with what the neighbors are doing, and when we can be helpful to them, we are.”

Detroit officials slow to embrace agricultural plans

When first proposed by businessman John Hantz, a Detroit resident who heads a financial services firm based in Southfield, the idea for Hantz Farms became the focal point of the debate over reimagining Detroit’s vacant spaces.

But city approval has been slow in coming for Hantz’s original idea — planting food crops on as many as 2,000 acres of vacant city-owned land.

That may happen someday, but for now, the prospects look much more modest. The Detroit City Council approved the sale of 3.5 acres — about 35 house lots — to Hantz Farms this year, but barred the company from growing food or selling products from the land.

So, instead, Hantz Farms will be planting trees — about 1,000 small oak saplings, for the most part — as a demonstration project that could eventually produce revenue from wood products if the city ever gives the company permission to sell products. Hantz plans to plant about 300 trees per acres — or about one every 12 feet.

As found on Detroit Free Press, read the rest of the article:


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