In 2011, as industry deserted the city, Detroit suffered an economic downturn that resulted in an 18.5 billion dollar debt for which they filed bankruptcy in 2013.
In some neighborhoods, the unemployment rate shot up to a staggering 50%. But little by little, the city is rising from the ashes, and reinventing itself thanks to lots of innovation.
One such innovation is urban agriculture. On November 30, Detroit become a pioneer in the US for creating a large-scale urban farm right in the middle of the city. Named AgriHood, the project was made possible by the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, and is sustainable, organic, local and free.
From food desert to collaborative consumption
AgriHood is located in the northern outskirts of Detroit, where the demographic losses after the financial crisis resulted in ghost neighborhoods filled with abandoned houses. In the 2.5 acres of urban gardens, you'll find an orchard with 200 fruit trees, a sensory garden for children, and there will soon be a community cafe and educational center.
Thanks to its volunteer-based system, AgriHood has already provided over 50,000 pounds of fresh produce to more than 2,000 households, most of which are low-income. It's a true oasis in an urban area often described as a "food desert" lacking fresh fruits and vegetables. And it's an efficient way to combat the food insecurity that affects 13% of the American population.
The thing that makes Detroit's urban farm stand out from the rest is its large size and accessibility. There are other farms of this kind in the United States, but often space is limited, and the organic products they sell are expensive, which means only upper and middle class families can afford them. AgriHood is changing that by producing large quantities of food and providing it free of charge.
It's one of the rare examples that proves that neighborhoods can be self-sustaining right in the middle of the city. In 2015, French film Demain told the story of how a city reorganized itself to become completely autonomous in producing their own food. Today, Detroit counts 1,600 local farms and has become one of the best examples of collaborative consumption in the Western world.
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