CLEVELAND - With the economy in a coma – Detroit and Cleveland are becoming farms once again.
Detroit and Cleveland are literally falling apart. People are still fleeing the city and there are numerous houses and buildings that are empty.
So what are they doing to help revitalize their cities?
They are bulldozing the buildings are turning the land back into farms.
A vacant lot may be a lot of things: an eyesore, a dump, a symbol of American industrial decline.
Garrett Malmstein 29, is planning on managing the farm at the old MetLife Building in downtown Cleveland.
“Right here is kind of a mix of plants that probably existed as people’s landscaping,” said Mr. Malmstein, a naturalist with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. “This here looks like somebody’s ornamental rose that has just kind of persisted.”
A concrete pad hinted where the buildings might have stood. If the pair of fawns grazing across the street knew anything more than that, they weren’t saying.
Detroit plans to implode the Renaissance Center in Downtown Detroit and put in a big cornfield. Many local Detroiters are welcoming the conversion from “big city” to “little farm.”
“I’m looking forward to planting some tomatoes in the farm that’s going to start up at the old Ford Theater,” said Willie Watters who lives right on Jefferson Boulevard. “It’s about time we get back to our roots. Michigan is all about farms. That’s what we do best.”
Many Detroiters are spending the summer planting seeds – hoping for a big harvest next spring.
In Cleveland, it’s the same thing. Cleveland’s vacant land is looking less like a sign of neglect and more like an ecological experiment spread over some 33,600 acres.
The Cleveland Browns football team is taking part in the “Greening of Cleveland.” Many of the players on the team will be spending time, plowing some fields and helping to set up working farms for citizens of downtown Cleveland.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is being imploded. It will now be the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Garden. “We’re going to plant roses. Many of superstars of rock and roll will be on hand to plant cucumbers and broccoli.”
“I’m going to help all I can,” said Bruce Springsteen. “This is what rock and roll is all about – gardening, helping things grow. Cleveland is rising.”
Originally, cities like Cleveland and Detroit were farms back in the 19th century. The industrial revolution turned them into “rust”… but now, they are going green again.
Driving away from Site 6 and Cleveland’s east side, you can imagine someone like Mr. Thomas cursing the unmown grass every morning and evening, for years on end. Until one day, he will look over from the porch and the grass will be gone. And a wood will have taken its place.