Detroit has had its share of hard times, but a new agrarian trend is bringing some hope to the city. An urban farm has sprung up in a vacant lot in the middle of Detroit. Though downtown farms may seem out of place, they are welcome additions to communities in which healthy food and job prospects are few and far between. Urban farming has the potential to improve the health of Detroit residents, strengthen the city’s economy and foster a more community-oriented environment. Community members and Detroit officials should recognize these benefits and support the creation of urban farms throughout the city.

The farm, located in a community not far from Detroit’s downtown area, produces fresh fruits and vegetables for residents to purchase. It was created by the organization Urban Farming, which was formed in 2005. Urban Farming’s headquarters is in Detroit, according to a report by ABC’s Detroit affiliate WXYZ. The organization’s mission, according its website, is to utilize Detroit’s unused land to increase Detroit residents’ access to healthy food. The company began in 2005 and is still growing.

But even in its early stages, Urban Farming is already accomplishing many of its goals. Artery-clogging fast food is often the only cheap and easy meal option for people living in low-income communities in Detroit. Urban farms, however, provide affordable and healthy food where there was previously none. Because the produce at these farms is grown locally, shoppers can be sure of freshness and quality. But more importantly, it’s close and easy to access. The combination of healthier choices and convenient access to fresh foods will help promote healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle, resulting in long-term health benefits for poverty-stricken Detroit residents.

Detroit’s crumbling economy needs a makeover. And urban farms could be part of a solution to the city’s economic problems. The mass exodus from Detroit — a result of the city’s increasingly depressing financial crisis — has left a lot of empty space throughout the city. Utilizing this vacant space to create urban farms will generate new business opportunities in areas that have been so long accustomed to losing local businesses. Urban farming also helps to improve the local job market because these farms require a lot of manpower to operate successfully.

In working to operate the farms, Detroit residents are creating a sense of community. Working at a local farm or shopping at a local farmer’s market is an easy way for people to invest in their community. For many Detroit residents, the farm could be a spark of hope. And the city has been so poverty-stricken for so long that this hope goes a long way in revitalizing Detroit’s prospects.

Detroit can only benefit from the increase of urban farms. Urban farms encourage Detroit to make use of resources that are currently going to waste: land and available labor. And the farm is a valuable source of healthy food and a sign of hope for the community. City residents and leaders should value the urban farm and create similar farming projects to help reinvent Detroit.

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