Russ White

Kathryn Colasanti is an academic specialist in the C. S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU.  She believes there’s great potential for growing food stuffs in Detroit, but she says it depends on how you define potential.

Colasanti’s Michigan State University study indicates that a combination of urban farms, community gardens, storage facilities and hoop houses – greenhouses used to extend the growing season – could supply local residents with more than 75 percent of their vegetables and more than 40 percent of their fruits.

“We looked at potential in terms of capacity or quantity of vacant publicly-owned land in the city to grow fruits and vegetables in a quantity that could have a significant impact on the amount of fruits and vegetables Detroiters eat,” says Colasanti.

Generally, she says, there is a lot of support for urban agriculture in the city, but that the details get complicated.

“People are supportive but want to see it integrated into the city rather than have it supplant the urban development,” she says.

Colasanti believes it’s time for the city to step up and make a cohesive plan of what it wants to support and how it will regulate the growing industry.

“We need an accurate inventory on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis of the land that is appropriate to grow on that people would support turning into farms,” she says.  “And we need a city-wide overlay of where agriculture would be allowed and at what scale.”

Click here to hear Colasanti’s December 10 Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Kirk Heinze.  Greening of the Great Lakes airs Friday evenings at 7 on News/Talk 760 WJR.

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