MSU, Detroit collaborate on urban farm
MSU will invest about $1.5 million in a new collaborative effort between the university and the city of Detroit on an urban farming project, the university announced last week.
The program MetroFoodPlus Innovation Cluster @ Detroit will allow the university to help promote urban farming in the city, and will help MSU do research and implement new farming strategies. The $1.5 million investment will stretch over the next three years.
MetroFoodPlus Innovation Cluster @ Detroit is supported by both MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Simon said MSU is proud to work on this project, especially so close to the anniversary of the Morrill Act, which allowed for the creation of more land-grant colleges nationwide.
“Michigan State University is America’s pioneer land-grant university,” Simon said in a statement. “As we celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Morrill Act, we are proud to help define land-grant engagement for a new century in and with Detroit.”
Co-director of MetroFoodPlus Innovation Cluster @ Detroit Rick Foster said the program could change the way cosmopolitan cities around the world get their food, overall reducing cities’ carbon footprints by creating a balance between the consumption of locally and globally produced food.
Right now, cities such as Detroit import more food than they produce, he said.
“We anticipate that this should end up being a game-changer in Detroit, and by that, I mean this should help put Detroit on a different pathway as far as it’s future food system is concerned,” Foster said. “That is one of growing your own food that may even be enough for processing and exporting (to surrounding cities).”
Although there currently is no specific location where the farms will be built, Foster said the organization is looking at different properties in the city and testing soil to see where plants could be grown.
Foster said he wants to work with the people of Detroit and local businesses that have already begun to use urban farming, and the effort is very much collaborative.
Political theory and constitutional democracy and international relations sophomore Tommy Doot, said in terms of sending money to Detroit, it is a good move for MSU, but he wonders if urban farming is the best way to help the people.
“The program itself seems like a good idea, get rid of ‘idle land’… which I think is one of the biggest problems Detroit has,” Doot said. “I also end up thinking about all the people that could have gotten financial aid with that $1.5 million though, and whether it would have been better used to give scholarships to those in need from Detroit specifically.”