Talk to anyone who has been through one of the great urban planning masters programs, and the first thing that they will tell you is that cities are changing. The population has been shifting lately in many major cities as industries change. For example, the population in Flint and Detroit has fallen because the auto industry has moved out of those places, whereas the populations in the smaller towns around the places have grown – a result of more and more freelance work that is freeing people up to work from anywhere, submitting their projects remotely.
The challenges that this creates for cities is that there is a lot of land that was once used for housing and that is now not being used for anything. Abandoned houses sit on the corners of countless, nameless streets. Some of the houses have been burned down. Teens often use them as places to hang out or the backdrop for illegal graffiti. These areas are being entirely wasted, and many of the lots are not even owned by people. The land bank owns them and it cannot sell them off because no one wants to live in those broken down houses.
One solution that people have come up with lately is to bring farming back to the cities. This is something that goes farther than just Detroit or Flint; it can be used in cities all over the United States and even in other countries. Back before the cities grew up to the largest sizes, this was all farm land anyway. The cities managed to eat that up when they expanded; farmers made a profit to sell their land for housing developments. Now, the houses are being torn down and new farms are being planned, farther toward the heart of the city than you have probably seen a farm before.
This is huge for the cities. For one thing, it makes the land useful. It also cleans the area up so that it looks more attractive. On top of that, farming is a business, an industry. It can help to bring in income that might help the rest of the city grow and thrive. It provides jobs and gives people a reason to move back to town. This is not going to be the answer to the problem all on its own, but it can be a very helpful part of the total solution.