Greenhouses and hoop houses are coming to 22 blocks of blighted land on Detroit’s east side due to a $15 million urban-agriculture project.
“One of the questions that we are facing as a city is what do we do with the vacant land that’s left behind,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “Today is an example of what I hope becomes the basis for the development of this land.”
Duggan announced the partnership with RecoveryPark, a nonprofit who focuses on helping ex-offenders find employment, to help transform a large plot of land located along Chene Street to Forest Avenue.
The nonprofit is expected to grow specialty produce to be sold to local chefs working at Detroit’s premier restaurants. Selden Standard and Gold Cash Gold are just two of the expected businesses who will be a client of the projects resources.
“We are not just transforming property. We are going to transform lives,” Duggan said. “They are taking the hardest to employ folks in our community and putting them to work on land that had been long abandoned and forgotten.”
The project is expected to create more than 120 jobs within three years. Recovery Park Farm, a for-profit business, is expected to be in charge of the operation and leased land.
“We are working with a regional distributor on making a contract of a minimum of $8 million in specialty produce that’s going to take us into 440 restaurants over a 10-year time,” said Gary Wozniak, CEO of RecoveryPark. “That’s exciting as well.”
The land to be leased will be from the Detroit Land Bank Authority.
“This project is on a scale we have not seen in the city,” said DLBA spokesman Craig Fahle. “It’s very exciting.”
Other investors of the large scale greenery project include: Erb Family foundation, The Kresge Foundation and the Detroit Development Fund.