Urban Farming Symposium

This UDMcast features Melanie Duda, UDM School of Law alumna; Neil Hamilton, director of the Agricultural Law Center and professor and Opperman Chair of Law at Drake University Law School; Richard Harlow, program manager in the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program Office within the State of Michigan's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; and Kathryn Colasanti, Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University, recorded May 18, 2012. Running time is 3 hours 11 minutes 15 seconds. Select UDMcast format below.

The UDM School of Law hosted its second Urban Farming Symposium, May 18, 2012. With special focus on the city of Detroit, national and regional experts convened to discuss this growing trend.  The speakers were as follows.

Neil Hamilton, director of the Agricultural Law Center and professor and Opperman Chair of Law at Drake University Law School, gives the presentation, "Urban agriculture: A key element in U.S. food and farm policy -- and of Detroit's future."  Hamilton, one of the nation's leading authorities on the role of law in our agriculture and food systems, discusses many forces shaping the future of our food and farming system, highlighting those related to urban agriculture.  Hamilton shares his unique perspective on the federal agencies, legislation and programs focused on American agriculture, as well as on the growing emergence of the local food movement.

Melanie Duda, 2012 graduate of the UDM School of Law, presents her paper, "Growing in the D: Revising current laws to promote a model of sustainable city agriculture."  From an overview of urban agriculture, Duda's talk covers the legal tension based on Michigan's powerful "Right To Farm" Act, which is intended to protect farmers from nuisance lawsuits, but which also makes cities nervous about allowing any agriculture.  At the time of this presentation, about 1,300 urban gardens/farms were operating in Detroit, despite all of them being illegal.

Richard Harlow is program manager in the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program Office within the State of Michigan's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).  He delivered this presentation on urban agriculture on behalf of Brad Deacon, the MDARD coordinator of Emergency Management and Administrative Law (who was unable to attend).  Harlow has worked with the City of Detroit's urban agricultural workgroup to develop zoning ordinances to permit and regulate agricultural activity within the city.  In this presentation, he discusses the various roles that MDARD has in regulating and promoting agriculture, and how those roles affect the development of agriculture for cities like Detroit.  Issues include pesticide and fertilizer use, soil contamination, animal/livestock health, food safety, consumer protection, and economic development.  Also, the opportunities in small-scale "cottage food" activities are discussed.

Kathryn Colasanti, of the Center for Regional Food Systems at MSU (formerly the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems), gives her presentation, "Urban agriculture in Detroit: Possibilities & perspectives." In her presentation, Colasanti shares the history of the urban agriculture movement and the breadth of its activities, motivations, benefits and impacts.  She also discusses her research on urban agriculture in Detroit in particular, including an assessment of the usable vacant land in Detroit, a food production capacity analysis and a survey of resident perspectives.

Select a format

This UDMcast is available in the following format(s):