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Detroit Urban Agriculture – Flirting With 20,000 Acres

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Touch the Soil News #238 The city of Detroit has evolved into a kind of ground zero for re-inventing the economics of the world. The blighted city has caught the imagination of urban farmers. In 2013, the city filed bankruptcy. Through a series of tense negotiations and restructuring, the city was able to exit bankruptcy in November of 2014. In deep economic trouble, there were 26,406 properties affect by tax foreclosures last year – more than three times the number recorded in 2009. When added all up, the number of vacant lots in Detroit add up to a staggering 20,000 acres. At the top of the list of what should…

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Moving to a New Neighborhood? Oops, I mean Agrihood

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Touch the Soil News #234 Welcome to Serenbe, a real estate development south of Atlanta, Georgia. Serenbe’s developer, Steve Nygren, was raised on a farm. As a successful restaurant operator, Nygren purchased 1,000 acres of forest and farmland. He felt it was time for a new kind of living. Serenbe is an upscale community with some 200 homes at present. In the middle of the development is a 25 acre organic farm run by professional organic farmers. At first, Nygren was apprehensive about the success of such a project. However, the first 20 lots that were put on the market in Serenbe were sold in 48 hours.  In a recent…

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Will Draft-Horse Farming Make a Comeback?

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Touch the Soil News #229 A few years back, Susan and I were fortunate to spend a couple of days with David and Debbie Mader of Horsepower Organics. The Maders farm 155 acres with Belgian draft horses in Eastern Oregon. They also breed, train and sell Belgian work-horse teams. To make the most of this enterprise, the Maders take in interns to learn the art of draft-horse farming. It came as a surprise to us that many of the interns were young women and some of them from overseas. Working as interns at Horsepower Organics (from left) Carmen Becker (Germany), Liz Bedsole (Portland) and Hattie Kugler (Vet student from Washington…

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