The Motor City may soon be known better for it’s tomatoes than it’s cars. Urban farming initiatives have been popping up all over Detroit as a way to utilize the city’s plethora of vacant lots and provide fresh food for local residents.
Now, Michigan State University has announced it will build a major urban agriculture research campus within the city that will position the city as a future world center for urban food systems technology and development. The agreement, signed in late June by Mayor Dave Bing and MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon outlines a program dubbed the MetroFoodPlus Innovation Cluster @ Detroit.
“Michigan State is committed to making this a community-centered, collaborative program focusing both on developing Detroit’s vast potential and demonstrating the concept’s applicability to a rapidly urbanizing world,” Simon said. “By 2050, food production will need to double – using less water and energy than today. We see great opportunity to do good locally and connect globally.”
The partnership will begin with a series of discussion with community stakeholders and prospective partners. Over the next three years, the school will initially invest $500,000 to create research-oriented innovation center where cutting-edge technologies in land-based and indoor growing systems can be developed. Ultimately, researchers hope to discover new ways idle properties could be repurposed for production of high-value vegetables and nonfood crops such as biofuel plants.
“We salute the urban food work already being carried out by so many highly committed Detroiters and community-based organizations. The opportunity ahead is to address our current critical development needs through expanding the urban food agenda in Detroit, connecting our work to other major cities around the world and positioning the city to be a leader in new food growing technologies for the future,” MSU’s MetroFoodPlus program co-director Rick Foster said.
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