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Why This Matters: Detroit is experiencing an agricultural revolution, and this study is one important piece in the puzzle. The city is working to develop “agrihoods,” or agricultural neighborhoods, and to plant green roofs. But to achieve true local food sovereignty, healthy urban soil is needed. By determining how to recondition urban soil, denizens of Detroit and other cities can have more and better access to food. And beyond farming, the implications are huge: cover cropping, according to Edwards, could help sequester storm-water that catalyzes flooding in the city, as well as potentially reduce asthma- and allergy-inducing weed species.
As study director Naim Edwards told Civil Eats, “Almost all farmers are paying lots of money for composts.” Longer running farms are even “noticing imbalances in their soil and nutrients because of this practice of simply laying on a compost every year.” Cover crops on urban farms could potentially help remedy this problem. The study is currently searching for the optimal mixture of cover crops to help improve Detroit’s soil.
Fighting Food Insecurity
The pandemic, as Civil Eats noted, has hit Detroit hard. As Planet Detroit put it, the pandemic has revealed “issues with local food supply chains — like how much of it caters to restaurants and wholesalers instead of residents.” This means, according to Ashley Atkinson, the co-director of Keep Growing Detroit, that plant gardens will be “more critical for Detroiters this year than ever before.” Within the city of Detroit, there are approximately 1,400 community gardens and farms, and one officially designated agrihood, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI), which was founded in 2012 and calls itself America’s First Sustainable Urban Agrihood. While urban gardens are not necessarily a panacea to the structural problems with our food system, healthy soil means potentially greater access to healthy food, an important step on the way to food sovereignty. And what they are learning in Detroit can easily be taken up in other cities as well.
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer With drought continuing in the West, and the summer’s historic floods throughout Europe, the world is wondering how climate change will also affect the way we eat. This controversial question was addressed by agriculture experts, NGOs, government officials, and corporate leaders at Peas, Trees, and 1.5 Degrees, a Climate […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer In the lead-up to today’s United Nations Food Systems Summit, young activists spoke about their priorities for the global gathering at yesterday’s Food is the Future event. At the event, youth representatives from worldwide interviewed adult peers in the world of food system work. In an effort to […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Investing in small-scale local farm activities can take on rural poverty, sustainability, and nutrition challenges according to a report released today by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development. The report, Transforming Food Systems for Rural Prosperity, recommends supporting all elements of food production, not just growing crops. Expanding […]
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