With scores of foreclosures and a mounting supply of vacant urban lots, the establishment of urban farms is gaining momentum, not only with community-based organizations but also with entrepreneurs who have an eye on greener economies for struggling cities. In New Orleans, rental property owners who couldn't rebuild after Katrina opted to lease their land for the Villere Urban Farm project, which is growing produce for the local neighborhood. The ambitious, for-profit Hantz Farms venture in Detroit plans to convert more than 70 acres of underutilized vacant lands and abandoned properties on the city's lower east side to grow local fruit, vegetables and trees. These city-based "farmland reclamation" efforts join the ranks of established programs such as Greensgrow Farm in Philadelphia and Growing Power in Milwaukee.
Villere Urban Farm is a non-profit community farm dedicated to growing food in and for the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. LowerNine.org is working with residents of the ward to turn their vacant lots into urban farming spaces that will provide affordable produce. The Villere Farm Project is supported by The Walter Family Foundation, with its funds matched by LowerNine.org.
For more information, write Lower Ninth Ward Urban Farming Coalition, 6018 El Dorado St., New Orleans, LA 70117-2522; call 207-350-6978; or visit the website.
Hantz Farm in Detroit hopes to rejuvenate the city by returning to the area’s agrarian roots, and creating the world’s largest urban farm in Detroit, a sustainable producer and seller of homegrown fruits and vegetables as well as clean energy. Owned, operated and staffed by Detroiters, Hantz Farms will provide green jobs and on-the-job training; a year-round supply of fresh, local, safe produce for area families; a cleaner, greener environment; synergy with other local businesses through visitors to the farm; and lessening the burden on city services that abandoned neighborhoods become.
To contact Greensgrow Farm, write to 2501 E. Cumberland St., Philadelphia, PA 19125; call 215-427-2702; or visit the website.