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Muth '12: Turning Detroit's Vacant Lots into Urban Gardens

February 7, 2012

In a recent essay in the Michigan Environmental Law Journal, Vermont Law School student Benjamin Muth '12 discusses how California's legal system for determining water rights could be applied to vacant land in Detroit to encourage urban farming, while preserving the city's legal ability to return vacant land to urban development in the future.Image of vegetables

The essay is titled "An Urban Agriculture Permit System for Detroit's Vacant Land."

"Citizens of Detroit have already started urban agriculture plots, capitalizing on the benefits of urban farming: creating jobs in the community, bringing families closer, promoting health and strength, combating hunger, educating citizens, facilitating recycling and reuse, greening the city, lowering Detroit's carbon footprint, and even reducing crime," Muth wrote. "Efforts to create jobs and health through urban agriculture could have a significant role in Detroit's future.

"Instead of selling vacant land for urban agriculture, Detroit needs a permit system for urban agriculture on its vacant land that would foster light economic growth, support healthy communities, and be flexible enough to adapt to a growing city. A carefully tailored permit system is the best way to allow farmers to take full advantage of Detroit's vacant land, while preserving the city's authority to reclaim the land when urban development opportunities arise. If Detroit begins to prosper in the 21st Century, then the city will need a way to reclaim urban agriculture land without using eminent domain power."

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