While there are many aspects of farming in the city that are no different from farming in the country (for instance dealing with pests, having to worry about irrigating crops, weeding, and harvesting to name a few), there are some differences that urban farmers face. The most obvious one being that in an urban environment there are more people per capita on a square foot than in the country. This means that it’s especially important for urban farmers to reach out to their neighbors and community to educate them about what urban agriculture is, and often what it isn’t. As urban farmers we’re not trying to expand to a massive scale, we view urban agriculture as an important part of a vital and vibrant urban neighborhood. Urban farms can help stabilize communities in addition to providing residents with access to nutritious food, but it’s only a part of what makes a strong community.
In Detroit, urban agriculture is not currently legal, but it’s not illegal either. This has to do with zoning regulations, there is no zoning for urban agriculture, meaning that as of today there are no zones in the city where agriculture is allowed by right, or as a primary use on a piece of property. There are many groups and individuals that have been working for years to change that, and it looks like this year is going to be the year. The City of Detroit Planning Commission has spent the past few years putting together a draft urban agriculture ordinance, with input from community stakeholders. They are hoping to bring it before city council this fall. But before that happens they want to give Detroit residents the opportunity to weigh in on the ordinance. To that end they are holding listening sessions at the end of September around the city.
These are exciting times. By next season, urban farms and farmers across the city will have the ability to not only buy the land they are farming on, but can legitimize their businesses and begin to build their farms with the knowledge that it can’t be taken from them. We encourage those of you who are city residents to attend these sessions, not just to learn what the ordinance means for the city, but to advocate as beneficiaries of urban agriculture! Click the link below to learn when and where these listening sessions will be held.