Equal Justice for Detroit Urban Farmers

Nick Leonard

As an Equal Justice Works fellow with the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, I am excited to be work and live in the community I’ve always loved.

In 2008, I worked as an unpaid and curious urban agriculture intern in Detroit. I loved the experience so much that over the course of six years, I have been unwilling to let it go. What has continuously drawn me to urban agriculture in Detroit is that it recognizes Detroit’s flaws and creates a solution. The city is plagued with abandoned properties, a lack of access to fresh foods, and a lack of services from the city government and the private sector. Many urban farmers imagine a Detroit where those abandoned properties are turned into garden or farm that not only provides a point of access to fresh food, but also an empowering space for the community itself.

The last point may be the most powerful. Urban agriculture is often a community solution to community problems. In Detroit today, there is a discussion about whom the city is being redeveloped for and many people have valid concerns that it is not being redeveloped for the great majority of Detroit residents. It is important to remember that economic development does not necessarily equate to community development, and it is important to realize just how unique and powerful of a force urban agriculture can be for this city.

However, many people involved in urban agriculture do their work with scarce resources. One such area where resources can be scarce is in professional services, and legal services are certainly in this category. Due to costs, the great majority of the urban agriculture community in Detroit cannot afford a lawyer. As an Equal Justice Works fellow with the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, I am hoping to close that gap as much as I can by providing legal services to those in the urban agriculture community free of costs. It is my hope that through my work I can empower the urban agriculture community to do the work they love.

As for this blog, I hope to provide education regarding the basic legal issues that are common for urban farmers that is easily accessible to everyone that has access to a computer and to keep people updated on the latest urban agriculture policies that are being adopted by cities and states across the country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *