In this recession-racked town, the lack of food is a serious problem. It’s a theme that comes up again and again in conversations in Detroit. There isn’t a single major non-discount chain supermarket in the city, forcing residents to buy food from corner stores or discount chains. Often less healthy, less varied, or more expensive food.
I got kind of interested in the subject, so I also read this BBC piece about Detroit’s urban gardens:
Motown has lost more than a million residents since its heyday in the 1950s and it is common to see downtown residential streets with just a few houses left standing. Taja Sevelle saw the hundreds of hectares of vacant land in the city and came up with the idea of creating an organic self-help movement that would be “affordable (and) practical”.
Beginning three years ago, armed with $5,000 (Ã‚Â£2,500) and a pamphlet, the singer and entrepreneur managed to win a wide cross-section of support around the city. Now her charity is expanding across the US. Ms Sevelle is also keen to discuss her ideas with the new Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. With a handful of full-time staff, Urban Farming co-ordinates the cultivation of what amounts to 500 family-sized gardens across Detroit.
The organization that Sevelle started is called Urban Farming:
Pestronk couldn’t remember where he’d read about it, but he described an idea where food stamp users could get twice the usual value for their stamps if they used them at local farmers’ markets. That sounds like a good idea. Except, aren’t the prices at farmers’ markets higher than those in the grocery stores? That might nullify a lot of the advantage, though such a program would still encourage healthy eating and local food production.
As a side note, I was curious about Detroit’s population loss. Check out this graph on Wikipedia–the city has about half as many people as it did in 1950.