Identifying with Urban Farming

In reading the New Harvest for Detroit article, I was struck by John Hantz’s desire to reinvigorate Detroit by developing sections of it into a for-profit large scale urban agriculture farm and help employ a population with a 25% unemployment rate. This desire to renew Detroit reminded me of an urban farm I came across in the Bayside neighborhood in Portland, Maine. This urban farm in Portland could have a similar impact on its neighborhood which is missing an identity.

The Urban Farm Fermentory (UFF) is an urban farm located in an industrial warehouse district in one of the poorest neighborhood in the city. I happened across the UFF when I was in the area taking pictures of a nearby brownfield as a potential thesis topic. The UFF began life in an abandoned single story warehouse as a fermentation center for food, beverages, and honey production. UFF has since evolved into a micro farm. UFF is run sustainably by reusing materials found in its industrial neighborhood such as palettes, cable spools, and scrap wood and has been used as an environmentally friendly material for their growing needs.

The Portland area is known for having a high number of restaurants and would seem to be an ideal location for an urban farm. Restaurateurs and patrons would both appreciate knowing that their herbs and vegetables were not just grown locally, but exactly where, and most likely within walking distance. The UFF could also appeal to the locals by selling their products at the local farmer’s market. The UFF could expand their operations at low cost to any number of nearby abandoned warehouses in the neighborhood. Given the neighborhood’s high unemployment rate, community members would be happy to work at the UFF.

Similar to John Hantz’s plans to reinvigorate Detroit through building a large scale urban agriculture farm, the UFF could have a similar impact on its surrounding neighborhood. There is an abundant amount of people that can be employed, ample space to grow the farm, and also having a plentiful restaurant base to cater to and help create an identity for the Bayside neighborhood.


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