Well, I just checked this documentary out of our local library on a whim and I proudly recommend it to anyone interested in urban farming, Michigan, agriculture, or Detroit.
Being a resident of Michigan my entire life, I’ve heard everything about Detroit, I was even raised to have a healthy fear of that city. During college we traveled to Detroit on a couple of occasions and now I live even closer to the city. The more I see it, the more sad it gets. While I worked for an insurance company, I couldn’t insure any of them because their homes wouldn’t pass insurance inspections and it their rates were steep because of high claims in that area. Then, after the recent flooding this year in Detroit, Justin (who still works in insurance) had to tell people that flood insurance is only sold by the government (which is true, if an agent tells you otherwise they are lying) and that their flooded homes were not covered by their insurance.
The city has stood on the banks of the St. Clair river, rotting for decades and these people (in the documentary) are seeking to save the residents left in Detroit and to build them a brighter future. They start up urban farms and gardens, beckoning the community in and rebuilding the foundation of Detroit on something more sustainable than big industry.
However, the local government in Detroit is grasping at straws, to this day, to get industry back into Detroit. They only want to sell property to people who will industrialize and they fail to see that Detroit will never be an industry hub again. They need to think local and try to build the community up before they ask large companies to come in and take over.
According to the documentary (made in 2011), the people of Detroit have a severe lack of grocery stores in the city and subsist mostly on gas station or fast food. I didn’t even realize it was possible to live on that kind of food and I now understand why no one there can afford anything else. If you have ever bought something you needed from a convenience store, you will know it’s marked up almost 400-500% from the grocery store. We purchased Evaporated Milk once (I forgot it) and the can cost almost $4 instead of the usual $1.20…no wonder it’s hard to survive.
In Urban Roots, the farmers try desperately to build a food community while sliding under the radar of the local and federal government. As we all know now, certain laws have been changed to prevent these practices from going on and for all I know, all these urban farms in Detroit could be gone now. I have no idea what has become of them.
Watch this documentary. You can click on the image above to visit their site where the film can be purchased or you can search for it at your local library like I did. Help people like this succeed, don’t let local zoning ordinances or government stop one of the greatest food revolutions this country has ever seen.
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