Growing food in the city is an expanding practice in communities with and without food security. Heralded by some as a viable and sustainable supplement to conventional food systems, urban agriculture has many challenges to implementation. This course explores the motivations, benefits and difficulties of farming within the city. The focus will be on temperate North American cities with special emphasis on Detroit. Throughout the semester we will return to this question: Can urban agriculture can be a durable component of the long-term vision for Detroit and other post-industrial cities? The question will be our platform for creative, interdisciplinary consideration of whether and how urban agriculture can provide a socially acceptable and realistic approach to city-building, community building, and human wellbeing.
To balance current theory with practical application, we will read and discuss a selection of scholarly papers and organizational reports. Guest speakers, local leaders deeply involved with urban agriculture in the region, will offer their insights on practical aspects of implementation. Topically, we’ll learn how urban farmers and relevant infrastructures are navigating the issues of equitable land access, community empowerment, growth of sustainable urban food networks, small-scale economics, ecological health considerations, personal wellbeing, and how cultural diversity and aesthetic expectations influence outcomes.