Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Student sustainability video festival 6: Urban farming

It's the end of the semester, which means it's grading time.  It also means posts light on text and analysis until the grades are posted.  Time for another entry featuring the videos my students have used in their presentations this year.

In this installment, I present my favorite from the semester just concluded, AMERICA REVEALED: Urban Farming on PBS.

See the full episode at http://video.pbs.org/video/2214315175.  Meet the ordinary people who bring food production back to basics in this clip from AMERICA REVEALED "Food Machine."
I told the student who used this that he had just played the next video that I will add to my lectures.  It hits all the themes involving urban agriculture that I include in my class--local food, use of empty land, improving local diets, helping the local economy, and connecting people to their food.  It even repeats a pair of images that I show my students to make a point about how empty Detroit has become, the St. Cyril neighborhood 70 years ago and now.  Actually, St. Cyril is even emptier now than in the modern photo.  That always gets my students.

Speaking of urban agriculture, remember what I wrote about Hantz Woodlands?  Well, the sale was approved as the Detroit Free Press reported in Hantz Woodlands gets green light from Detroit City Council.
More than a mere land sale, the Detroit City Council's 5-4 vote Tuesday to sell about 1,500 lots to the Hantz Woodlands project keeps alive the idea that Detroit will serve as a worldwide center of urban innovation for postindustrial cities.

In recent years, hundreds of artists, architects, academics, filmmakers, urban planners and students have flocked to Detroit to see urban innovation at work. The Hantz proposal, billed as the world's largest experiment in urban agriculture, was a big part of that global interest, receiving worldwide publicity.

The Hantz Woodlands project is a plan to buy about 1,500 city-owned parcels, or around 140 acres of land, for about $520,000 and plant hardwood trees on them as a beautification project. The parcels are almost all vacant lots; Hantz has committed to demolishing at least 50 blighted buildings that remain. Proposed almost four years ago as Hantz Farms, the project now will have a chance to demonstrate whether large-scale blight removal and reforestation will help Detroit's recovery.

Councilman Ken Cockrel Jr., a "yes" vote on the deal, said urban agriculture isn't a silver bullet to fix Detroit's problems, but that it is an important component of redevelopment.

"A 'no' vote would have sent the message to the world that Detroit isn't really serious about urban agriculture," Cockrel said.
I guess that means that Detroit is officially serious about urban agriculture.  That's good news and I don't need Professor Farnsworth to announce it.

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