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Hantz Farms Project In Detroit To Include Trees

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A company that wants to put vacant Detroit land to use for farming said its plans for commercial agriculture could begin by planting about 1,000 trees.

Hantz Farms will plant mostly oak saplings on 3.5 acres of land purchased from the city. The land, which is about the size of 35 house lots, is near Hantz Farms’ headquarters on the city’s east side.

Hantz Farms said it could sell wood products if the city gives it permission.

John Hantz, a Detroit resident who runs a network of financial services businesses, announced plans to create the world’s largest urban farm in Detroit two years ago. He has promised to invest $30 million in the project, which is aimed at creating jobs, providing fresh food to residents and making the city a leader in urban farming.

“When we get to the point where we’re hiring, we will turn to the major gardening groups in the city and recruit from them,” Hantz Farms President Mike Score said. “They’ve actually developed the basic skills that employees are going to need to help us do a good job on our farm.”

The plans have progressed slower than expected as the city draws up agriculture zoning regulations and Mayor Dave Bing works on broader land use plans under the Detroit Works Project, which aims to strengthen the most viable neighborhoods.

Rob Anderson, the director of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department, said the city continues to have “productive conversations” with Hantz.

“We have established a Detroit Works Project urban agriculture working group to help address the larger questions,” Anderson said.

For more information, visit www.hantzfarmsdetroit.com.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.

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