Afterhouse turns blighted buildings into urban agriculture hot spots

When most people talk about urban agriculture in Detroit, they say it with the idea of putting vacant land to use. Afterhouse, however, wants to grow the city's urban agriculture sector by putting vacant buildings to use.

The Detroit-based company, which calls the Banglatown neighborhood just north of Hamtramck home, is working to take the worst of the worst when it comes to blight and turn them into new urban farming hotspots. The idea is to raze the building and turn the leftover basement into a subterranean greenhouse.

Steven Mankouche and Abigal Murray are partnering to get Afterhouse off the ground -- or under it, really. Murray was inspired to launch the venture after seeing subterranean hoop houses in South America.

"She thought it would be cool to revive the basement of an old house in Detroit instead of digging another new hole," Mankouche says.

Afterhouse received a $135,000 Kresge Innovation Grant to bring its vision to life. They are starting by taking over a burned-out hulk of an abandoned home and installing a 25-foot by 25-foot hoop house that is four feet below grade.

"We'd like to start planing our first crop in the house by this fall," Mankouche says.

Source: Steven Mankouche, co-founder of Afterhouse
Writer: Jon Zemke

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