Go to any of the Farmers Markets (not just Detroit’s Eastern Market) and you will find a “movement.” People want to know where their food comes from now but more importantly they want to know who is growing it. They want know the “Farmer!”
I think Detroit and Michigan are positioned to be the fruit and vegetable capital of the upper-Midwest. With abundant land, clear water supply, proximity to transportation and large pool of non-tech labor we could supply the region with fresh foods!
With our experience in automation we could take this new “green house” technology to great heights growing year round and delivering food in days, maybe hours, to local tables and eateries. Even in the dead of Winter.
Solar and wind power, geodesic heating and composting can provide for a near energy neutral agricultural industry.
However there are problems to overcome: Being a building contractor here in Michigan (specializing in rain gutters) I was also certified by the State for Lead Hazards (I have since let my cert lapse as I’m getting out of the business) I can tell you that many, many residential properties are contaminated with lead. I believe lead poisoning is wide-spread in the older cities and is a cause of many permanent, early development learning problems for children.
Old industrial sites are a bigger problem. Growing up in this area and working in the welding and tool & die trades, I have personally witnessed dumping of extremely toxic waste into creeks, storm water drains or just out on the ground. Mercury and heavy metals from the old smoke-stack industries will be a problem. The city has also been used to illegally dump waste (of who-knows-what and who-knows-where).
The wonderful thing about Greenhouses (my Grandfather had two and my Brother-in-law owns and operates Big Red in Romeo which has acres under greenhouse) is that the ground below can be capped with concrete and raised beds are used for better control of the soil and its ambient conditions. Fresh soil and compost can be brought in with a high degree of control.
The fruit and vegetables grown locally would be fresher and more nutritious. The cost of transportation, handling and storage would be greatly reduced. And the sense of Community you find at a local farmer’s market will make any town or city a little nicer place to live.