Monday, August 10, 2009

Detroit Rising

In the July 13th entry of ISOGF, Will highlighted SF Mayor Gavin Newsom's executive directive to reshape the city's food system. I reckon that most people would guess San Francisco if asked which American city could become one hundred percent food self-sufficient. Strong political will and an educated, wealthy population that is prepared to stand behind progressive legislation may seem like the necessary factors to produce bold initiatives in sustainable food.

However, there is a sustainable food movement afoot in a very different city, under very different circumstances, that you might not expect:

An American Institute of Architects panel concludes that all Detroit’s residents could fit comfortably in fifty square miles of land. Much of the remaining ninety square miles could be farmed. Were that to happen, and a substantial investment was made in greenhouses, vertical farms, and aquaponic systems, Detroit could be producing protein and fibre 365 days a year and soon become the first and only city in the world to produce close to 100 percent of its food supply within its city limits. [Guernica Mag]

Long written off as a city in its death throes, Detroit does not seem like the most likely candidate for one-hundred percent food self-sufficiency. When you consider its realities: no grocery stores that carry produce, polluted soil, widespread poverty, devalued real estate, a dwindling urban population, etc., the idea sounds pretty unbelievable. But when you consider these factors in a different light, and combine them with strong food sustainability activists working from the bottom-up, large tracts of available and arable land that can be remediated, plentiful water, and local farming knowledge (just to name a few of its assets), Detroit seems like exactly the city where this type of fundamental shift could be the most possible. Read the full article here.

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