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RecoveryPark brings big farm vision to Detroit's east side

City of Detroit

Another large-scale, commercial urban agriculture project is set to take root over 22 square blocks of Detroit’s east side.

RecoveryPark Farms will lease 35 acres of blighted, city-owned land to launch the effort.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says Recovery Park will also provide jobs to recovering addicts, veterans, and returning prisoners.

“And with this 35 acres of land, we’re not just going to transform the property. We’re going to transform lives,” Duggan said.

The plan is to build a number of large greenhouses and hoop houses incrementally over the next five years, says RecoveryPark Farms CEO Gary Wozniak. The plan is to grow produce to sell to local restaurants, retailers and wholesalers.

Wozniak says the $15 million operation should be fully up and running in five years.

“We have to put the financing in place for each acre that we build, so we have to own the land that we build on,” he says. “And so we’ll start buying an acre at a time as we build it. It’s a different financial model, instead of just buying all the land at one time.”

RecoveryPark, which has a non-profit arm in addition to its for-profit farming business, is also required to maintain the land within the project’s footprint, and secure and demolish all buildings there.

The Detroit City Council still needs to approve the project.  

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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