Investor to Create 140-Acre Forest in Middle of Detroit

e9f3ee53f86880c32c6a0dc04e584dbbAn urban forest sounds nice, but some residents wonder who will really benefit.

Via The Atlantic:

After nearly five years of planning, a large-scale attempt to turn a big chunk of Detroit into an urban forest is now underway. The purchase of more than 1,500 vacant city-owned lots on the city’s lower east side – a total of more than 140 acres – got final approval from Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder last week.

The buyer is Hantz Farms, and it’s a venture of financier John Hantz, who lives in the nearby Indian Village neighborhood. Indian Village is an affluent enclave of manor-scale historic homes, but much of the surrounding area is blighted. Hantz Farms will pay more than $500,000 for the land, which consists of non-contiguous parcels in an area where occupied homes are increasingly surrounding by abandoned properties.

The company has committed to clearing 50 derelict structures, cleaning up the garbage dumped across the neighborhood, planting 15,000 trees, and mowing regularly. Planting of the hardwoods will begin in earnest next fall, and the urban forest will be called Hantz Woodlands.

The huge deal drew criticism last year, when the city council – which was then still in control of Detroit – voted 5-4 to approve the sale. A coalition of grassroots urban farmers and community activists opposed it, charging that it was a play to increase land values by buying a huge swath of acreage and taking it off the market. “I think it opens the gateway for other rich folks to come here to buy up land and essentially make themselves rich compounds,” urban gardener Kate Devlin told The Huffington Post at the time.

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  • Hadrian999

    well played Mr. Hantz, getting liberals to come out against nature

  • Anarchy Pony

    Attention urban farmers: Use it to make a food forest.

  • Juan

    You do not mow a forrest. If this thing requires mowing, then it is by definition not a forrest. Sounds more like a park to me.
    I like AP’s food Forrest idea. Do what the original inhabitants did, cultivate edible, indigenious plants.

    • Hadrian999

      the mowing part is most likely on the perimeter of large sections and smaller portions to keep the project compliant with city mowing laws

  • lifobryan

    At the far end of town
    where the Grickle-grass grows
    and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows
    and no birds ever sing excepting old crows…
    And deep in the Grickle-grass, some people say,
    if you look deep enough you can still see, today …
    It’s a Rustula Seed.
    It’s the last one of all!
    Plant a new Rustula. Treat it with care.
    Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
    And into a new rust factory it will grow.
    Unless ….

  • Liam_McGonagle

    plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

  • specialtasks

    Urban farming is a move away from indebtedness to the awful food choices found in most grocery stores and a move back to an independent lifestyle not based on 9-5 drudgery; “Investor” is not congruent, it is monkeywrenching from the top.

    • Ted Heistman

      I think the people that bought houses and have little urban homesteads, are going to be better off in the long run with this. There is no advantage to living in the midst of thousand of abandoned houses and tons and tons of garbage laying around.

  • Ted Heistman

    “The huge deal drew criticism last year, when the city council – which
    was then still in control of Detroit – voted 5-4 to approve the sale. A
    coalition of grassroots urban farmers and community activists opposed
    it, charging that it was a play to increase land values by buying a huge
    swath of acreage and taking it off the market. “I think it opens the
    gateway for other rich folks to come here to buy up land and essentially
    make themselves rich compounds,” urban gardener Kate Devlin told The Huffington Post at the time.”

    This paragraph says a lot. I mean, I think its cool that hipster urban farmers were buying houses here and there. But huge swaths were destined to stay looking like a complete shit hole for a long time until a large scale developer like this dude came a long. And of course local activists always oppose it, by instinct. I would be willing to bet this whole parcel would stay looking like a big apacalyptic garbage dump had the activists won.

    There are going to be more and more developers going green and reclaiming blighted areas like this. I think its pretty cool. Some of them even buy up Superfund sites and brownfields. I think its very positive. And they aren’t just building gated communities on golf courses either. Its sustainable development that keeps community values in mind and mixes lower mid level and higher income housing around and has lots of green space and community parks and rain gardens, wildlife habitat and things like that.

    • jnana

      this has actually been quite a problem across America lately. In NC theres a dude who decided to do some “green” urban development in a poor neighborhood. Of course, taxes went way up and the poor had to move out. Which really sucks, because now the poor majority are discouraged from making decisions that would help the environment. Combine that with high prices for organic food and you create a war b/w the poor and the “greens”

      • Ted Heistman

        So I guess the only solution is to have lots of blighted slums, eh?

        • jnana

          is that what I implied? i was making a statement on something that’s going on in this country. i didn’t imply a solution.

          but, really, do you think we live in some sorta unplanned economy? cause i would say everything’s going according to plan. there are as many slums as needed to keep the people reminded of what may happen to them if they don’t kiss the bosses’ asses. is there a reason the industrial farms that lay waste to the earth receive subsidies, while organic farms struggle to get started? might there be a reason for why it costs so much for an education? why jobs are shipped overseas and americans are so unskilled? who might profit from this whole scenario?
          as for “sustainable” development and urban farming, these are simply palliatives. there’s some aesthetic/cultural value, it’s inspiring people to think about the Earth, and it is reducing the shitty impact, but in some ways its worse because people are thinking its actually sustainable.

          • Ted Heistman

            I think the economy is less rational than you think. Farm subsidies are more like a bunch of fat hogs feeding at a trough, than some brilliant scheme to control the world. People get used to give a ways and come to rely on them and fight for them if people threaten to take them away.

            You sound a little apocalyptic and paranoid. I don’t see why urban farming is not sustainable. I work on a 2 acre plot with a woman, that has been organically gardening for 20 years, and the soil just keeps getting better. She lives in a rural area but the scale she does it on easily translates to urban or suburban areas. They own 2 acres but all the gardening is on one acre. Many other people could do what she does and on a shoestring budget.

            Better to be proactive then passively suffer and imagine gloom and doom, I find.

          • jnana

            its not the scale that’s unsustainable. its the idea that large cities can ever be made sustainable. that civilization just needs a little tweaking and we’ll all be just fine. that idea appeals to the lukewarm masses. im not against urban farms, per se. every little bit helps, I figure. I like to think about the parable of the loaves of bread and fish jesus fed the 5000 with. I think its a symbol that if we even give a little bit, God can take that and multiply it to effect some real change.

            apocalyptic and paranoid? who isn’t! and there’s plenty of reason for it, i’d say. as for the economy being irrational. I think its a little naïve to think economic policies are an accident. Maybe at the lower levels, its all just irrational greed. But I intuit that those at the higher echelons of society are making specific policies to put the squeeze on Americans, not too tight to make them desperate and act like a cornered animal, but tight enough to choke them and keep them from fighting back.

          • Ted Heistman

            Isn’t that a bit contradictory? Everything is going according to some master plan and it will all end in disaster?

            So its all rationally planned out to fail?

          • jnana

            yeah, they create the problem and have a “solution” already waiting. but, I agree, that they aren’t omnipotent and some things are outside their control.

        • Punctuated Colon

          No, just kill anyone without an empty wallet. Problem solved

  • Despicable Yeti

    Something tells me monstanto has great interest in this.

  • Punctuated Colon


  • jnana

    how do you increase the value of yer surroundings?
    you need to get yer head out of the ass of capitalists… and realize what is ACTUAL VALUE, friend.

  • jnana

    you are the epitome of ignorance… and will reap what you sow. I just hope people like you are still around after the collapse. free market assholes will slowly rot, while individuals who learn to live communally and SHARE will prosper.

  • jnana

    an organic subsistence farm doesn’t have to compete. some farms must compete in the free market because they’re forced to(and you call that freedom?), some believe in the free market, and some are fortunate enough to be self-sufficient and/or practice interdependence w/ other homesteads. organic farms are a varied bunch.
    so, there’s your answer. some things aren’t as simple as made to appear in the media by yer pundits.

  • jnana

    and, yes, when possible, I share with the poor. and practice EQUALITY.

  • jnana

    don’t assume everyone who isn’t a capitalist is a liberal. and I can assure you I will not come up to “your gate”. collapse or no collapse, my life hardly changes. I imagine people like you will see how dependent they really are, on the teats of Babylon.

  • jnana

    by large collectives, what do you mean?
    the people? the earth? earth’s plant and animal inhabitants?
    I care about all beings.
    its called EMPATHY.
    something I bet yer wife would appreciate for you to have.

  • jnana

    the teats of Babylon are what capitalists like you feed from. you receive your sustenance from the corporate state just as much, if not more, than the poor you hate so much.

  • jnana

    large industrial farms aim for the selfish profit motive. small organic farms aim to feed people in a sustainable manner balancing the needs of people and the planet.

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