Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Patrick Crouch's Posts


Evolution or gentrification: Do urban farms lead to higher rents?

Same Beebe
The author at work as an urban farmer.

I moved to Detroit almost 10 years ago, largely because I was interested in learning more about the city's burgeoning community gardens. At the time, little media interest was being paid to Detroit or its urban agriculture movement, and it certainly was not a place folks were looking to for the future of city gardening.

Not long after my arrival, my sister hit me with a sucker punch of a question: "Don't you ever worry that your work in community gardening is contributing to gentrification?"

I vehemently denied her charges, but in the back of my mind I had already been turning over the question, and feared that she might be right. Over the years, her question has stuck with me, and it seems especially pressing now, as development in Detroit is ramping up. Proposals for a light rail system, construction of a high-end grocery store, and the rehabbing of luxury lofts all have folks wondering where this will lead. Some see it as Detroit's rebound, others worry that rents will begin to skyrocket and the working class will be driven out.

Looking at the Detroit landscape, there is still so much empty land, and so many vacant buildings, it can often be difficult to imagine gentrification even happening. I've met people who say "a little gentrification would be a good thing for Detroit."

I disagree.

Read more: Cities, Food


New Agtivist: Edith Floyd is making a Detroit urban farm, empty lot by empty lot

Photo: Patrick CrouchEdith Floyd is the real deal. With little in the way of funding or organizational infrastructure, she runs Growing Joy Community Garden on the northeast side of Detroit. Not many folks bother to venture out to her neighborhood, but Edith has been inspiring me for years. I caught up with her on a cold, rainy November afternoon. While we talked in the dining room, her husband Henry watched their grandkids. Q. You haven't always been an urban farmer. What did you do before this? A. I worked at Detroit Public Schools. I started out with the Head Start …