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Development News

North End urban farming group to showcase new blight fighting techniques

After reportedly growing 10,000 pounds of produce in 2013, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is expanding operations in its North End neighborhood. The group is in the beginning stages of transforming three blighted houses and one apartment complex into a variety of uses. Each building will address a different challenge the city faces in tackling blight.

As previously reported, the apartment complex, 7432 Brush, is a three-story building that the group is turning into a community center. Recently secured and boarded up, the building will host a community kitchen, small food startup business incubator, biergarten, and demonstration space. It will also act as the group's headquarters.

MUFI has recently acquired three houses in the neighborhood that are beyond repair. In one case, the group bought a habitable home through the Wayne County Tax Auction and traded houses with someone in the neighborhood to get them into a more livable building. Each of the three houses will be transformed into working models that address the challenges the city faces when tearing down homes.

Since removing a foundation is often the most expensive part of demolishing a blighted building, MUFI is devising methods for removing blighted homes while leaving foundations and basements intact. The group will install a recycled shipping container home over the first foundation, a hoop house greenhouse over the second, and a retention pond membrane over the third. The plans are within the blue and green framework introduced by the Detroit Future City proposal.

"The idea is to pilot this project, showcase the ideas, and show how cheap we can do it," says Tyson Gersh, co-founder and president of MUFI. "The overall site is supposed to be a large demonstration space that can be showcased and spread elsewhere throughout the city."

The group relies heavily on volunteer work. To help out, show up on Saturdays, MUFI's volunteer work day.

Source: Tyson Gersh, President of Michigan Urban Farming Intitiative
Writer: MJ Galbraith
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