This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

Seeds of progress: How urban farming is changing Detroit’s future

Blueprint AmericaIf the Republican presidential hopefuls agreed on anything at last week’s Iowa debate, it was the need for America to create jobs. And one city that needs jobs is Detroit. The city itself has an unemployment rate hovering around 24 percent. The lack of jobs is one reason that nearly one-quarter of the population left the city in the last decade.

And where once there were families, now there are open, empty lots, driving wedges into neighborhoods and fracturing longstanding communities. But the recent creation of urban gardens has helped to stitch some of these communities back together. They’re also putting Detroit on the verge of a new economic model, and with it, the hope of jobs. Correspondent Desiree Cooper has the story, which is a co-production with Detroit Public TV and Blueprint America.

Watch the rest of the segments from this episode.

  • Differing views on fracking's impact
    Studies conducted on the counties above the Marcellus and Barnett Shale for example — where extensive drilling has already taken place — present mixed economic results.
  • thumb
    Too much solar energy?
    The proliferation of privately owned solar has large power companies in Germany worried.
  • thumb
    Nominee has industry ties
    Energy secretary nominee had deep connections to industry, including as a paid adviser to BP until 2011.


  • RAE

    do not let politicians derail these initiatives.There are ways to grow food sans fertilizer and pesticides. There is aqua farming that will not harm the environment. Get the science together with the investors.
    What benefit are schools and churches with no attendees. Encourage  the community involvement.

  • Duncan

    It’s really, really true; the famous old saying that terrorizes, “Hello…., we’re from the government and we’re here to help..”

  • jen

    The simple gift from mother earth! This is so inspiring and more important in so many ways than we dare to imagine!

  • Joseph K.

    Urban farming. It sounds like a good idea, but is it really getting to the root of the problem?  In this country our lax development laws allowed and even encouraged people to flee the cities.  Developers paved over farms and created unsustainable automobile-based communities. Now we are left with abandoned and deteriorated cities that look like something after the Blitz.  Is turning these cities into small farms really the answer?  Certainly they will provide jobs, but most agrarian labor is seasonal, and it appears that most Americans prefer not to work such jobs. We only need look at the vast amount of immigrant labor in our produce industry to understand that point.  

    What are we left with?  We once had cities that were the showplaces of the world, and by the way, we had the best mass transit system in the world prior to WWII.  Now many of these cities, like Detroit, are wastelands, but do we fix them by turning them into farms?  Perhaps what we need to do is step outside of the American box.  Most European countries limit development outside of cities. There is really no suburban sprawl problem in Europe, because those governments realized such developments would destroy the fabric of the cities.  The real problem we need to deal with in this country is reversing 60 years of unbridled suburban development, and rebuilding our cities, not making them into garden plots. 

    While these urban farming initiatives are helpful now, we really need to plug the leak instead of bailing out the water.  

  • I Got This

    Oh yeah, plenty of open manufacturing plants in the Motor City! Indoor Farms. Hydroponics at tits best. Make De-trots the pot head capitol of the world! Best thing that could happen to that shit hole of a city.