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Christensen '12 Examines Detroit Urban Agriculture

February 1, 2012

In a recent article in the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, Vermont Law School student Dana Christensen '12 explores urban agriculture, focusing on Detroit as an example of a grassroots movement that shifts how the community thinks about food.Image of tomatoes

The article is titled "Securing the Momentum: Could a Homestead Act Help Sustain Detroit Urban Agriculture?"

"Food security, employment opportunities, answers to urban blight, and health problems -- urban agriculture has many reasons to deserve the buzz it has lately received," Christensen wrote. "Long before 'going green' entered the larger societal and business consciousness, many American cities enacted zoning provisions for agriculture before the current industrial agricultural system took hold. Indeed, the rise of urban agriculture coincides with economic depressions in modern history, when state and local governments promoted community gardens to counteract poverty and its attendant social unrest.

"But the most recent manifestation of urban agriculture is unique; it is a movement driven by social justice as well as necessity, incorporating an ethic of environmental sustainability and community building to address the problems of the postindustrial city, including unemployment, food access, and vacant land issues. Detroit exhibits a prime example of urban agriculture as a grassroots movement that shifts how the community thinks about food, where it comes from, and who controls it. Most importantly, Detroit's urban agriculture movement has stimulated the idea of access to healthful affordable food as a human right. With the recovery from the auto industry's deterioration -- where economic decisions affecting the lives of millions of people were decided by a privileged few -- decades of white flight, and other detrimental factors, it is no surprise that urban agriculture in Detroit transcends the middle-class values of environmental sensitivity in favor of the economic justice of empowering those who stayed and persevered in Detroit when others left."

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