America’s First Sustainable Urban Agrihood Sprouts in Detroit

  • At the beginning of December 2016, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) revealed its plans for the first Sustainable Urban Agrihood in Detroit’s North End.
  • And what exactly is an agrihood?
  • It’s simple, really. It’s an alternative neighborhood growth model, positioning agriculture as the centerpiece of a mixed-use development.
  • There are some agrihoods around the country, but almost all in rural areas. Detroit’s is the first within a city.
  • MUFI’s agrihood spans three acres on Brush Street, and includes a successful two-acre garden, a 200-tree fruit orchard, and a children’s sensory garden.
  • They provide free produce to over 2,000 neighborhood households, churches, and food pantries.
  • The big part of MUFI’s announcement are the plans to renovate a three-story, 3,200-square-foot vacant building that was purchased at auction years ago.
  • This renovation is a collaboration between MUFI and a bevy of companies: Sustainable Brands, BASF, GM, and Herman Miller in an effort to create an energy efficient, sustainable Community Resource Center (CRC), which should be finished in May 2017.
  • Also in the works for the blossoming community: a repurposed building for student intern housing, a two-bedroom shipping container home, and the transformation of a fire-damaged home (in which only the basement is left) into a water harvesting cistern to irrigate the garden.
  • A suburban agrihood opened earlier in 2016 in Davis, California. However, the California it’s expensive, unlike the more equitable Michigan operation.
  • Additionally, in nearby Cleveland, the Ohio City Farm, at six acres, is one of the largest urban farms in the US and also aims to tackle similar challenges to MUFI’s agrihood.
The future community center.
The future community center.

All photos by photos by Michelle & Chris Gerard.

Author: Nicholas Efthimiadis

Seattle grown. Avid skier and occasional ski racer. Passionate about all things urban (particularly transportation & housing). University of Washington 2016 graduate: BA in Economics and a minor in Urban Design and Planning. Extensive experience in fictitious cartography and sand-city molding.