If they are demolishing homes, it's not likely the land was ever industrial and is probably not heavily contaminated. People on here assume Detroit was just one big hazardous waste dump, it was not. There is a process called phyto remediation, which basically means they use plants to draw out the nutrients from the soil, then the plants are disposed of as waste. You can use a lot of plants for this, flowering plants like sunflowers, or trees like willows, which use a lot of water so they draw up the nutrients quickly. A lot depends on what contamination exists and how mobile it is. If a plume is in the soil it will move along the groundwater gradient and can be mapped out. Sometimes it can be treated in-situ with injection wells. Some of that is pretty cool, with certain oil products what they do is set up a system where they inject a surfactant into the contaminated soil area and the surfactant reacts with the product in the soil breaking it down into harmless byproducts. Other kinds of contaminants can be dealt with by putting a cap on it, or as a last resort, because it's the most expensive option, removing the soil and replacing it. These sites can be treated, and since it says they putting it in a former neighborhood, it's likely not very contaminated to begin with.

Also on the size of this project. Detroit has over 138 square miles of land area, this farm works out to be about one half mile square, or around 300 acres. The average farm in this country is about 400 acres, if I remember right. This isn't as huge as some seem to think. Maybe it's misleading since most Americans aren't used to metric?

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Pending approvalOriginal post by Annalee Newitz on io9

People are building enormous farms in the ruins of Detroit

People are building enormous farms in the ruins of Detroit

Detroit isn't a decaying city anymore — it's a city in transition. Though its population dropped by 50 percent in the past half-century, and roughly a third of its buildings are abandoned, the place is coming to life again. Farmers are taking over the industrial wastes.

According to Next Nature:

Local businessman John Hantz just bought 600,000 square meters of land from the city of Detroit with an option to buy an additional 700,000, promising to demolish all the existing (abandoned) buildings, clean up the land, and plant hardwood trees. The Bank of America announced plans to demolish 100 homes and donate the land to urban agriculture. They’re not alone, as other small-scale urban farmers are adapting what’s left of the city to meet their needs.

Just as Detroit was once the city of the future because it was devoted to the auto industry, now it might embody the future of environmental city design.

Read more on Next Nature

Photo by Michigan Municipal League

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