According to the Free Press, Detroit is getting closer to agreeing to sell vacant residential lots for a commercial farm. We're talking about the Hantz Farm plan that has been floating around for about three years. The Free Press put out a map of the proposed farm area which is on Detroit's east side just north of (but not including) the Villages. Press generally refers to this as just "the east side" but should the farm happen, we're clearly going to need a new neighborhood name. Suggestions? Hantzland? Let's think on it.
As previously mentioned, not all of Detroit has embraced what seems to us a rather good idea. Who spoke out against it this time? The Freep talked to the head of the Detroit Food Policy Council, Malik Yakini, who called the proposal a "land grab," then (!) called Hantz "white."
Yakini told the Free Press this week that he was troubled by the Bing administration's failure to consult with the Food Policy Council or City Council's Planning Commission during the negotiations with Hantz. And he said he was troubled by any plan that allows "a wealthy white man to acquire large tracts of publicly owned land" in Detroit.
Granted, rich people have not always been great for Detroit, but this quote seems to be more about class/race conflicts than anything to do with the viability of the farm. Are we to assume a commercial farm would be ok if someone non-white and non-rich ran it? Doesn't the richness help ensure the thing gets going? What is Hantz willing to shill out for this? The Freep estimates that Hantz will spend $600,000 on the east-side land. Last fall he bought three acres near Mt. Elliott and McNichols to Hantz Farms which now have a few hardwoods and a few apple trees. Hantz is paying for the cleanup and tree planting out of his own resources and the estimated start-up cost for the entire project is $5 million. It seems to us that Detroit gets mad when rich people leave Detroit for the suburbs, and then gets mad again when they want to spend money on the city.