On a September day in 2023, community members gathered at the Keep Growing Detroit Farm to witness the formal announcement of the city’s first director of urban agriculture. Tepfirah Rushdan, who had long been involved in Detroit’s farming scene as a farmer, educator and advocate, was a natural fit for the position.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan spoke first. He touched on the importance of having representation for urban agriculture within city government. “I felt like I was supportive of farming, but our bureaucracy wasn’t supportive,” he said in the announcement.
And then Rushdan moved in front of the microphone, to the sound of loud cheering.
By appointing Rushdan, Detroit joined a small handful of cities that are creating positions within city government for urban agriculture. Urban farming is known for connecting city dwellers with their food source, increasing food security and creating beautiful green spaces. Although urban agriculture has deep roots in many cities, these directors are giving city food spaces an institutional voice within the government, complementing the agency and advocacy that has long accompanied the practice.
“It really shows that community that they’re valuable to the city, because they have an advocate at that level,” Rushdan said later to Modern Farmer.
Mayor Duggan’s proposed Land Value Tax Plan, on which Detroit may get to vote in 2024, would cut property taxes on structures such as houses while dramatically increasing the taxes for vacant lots. The idea is to reduce taxes for homeowners, without losing tax revenue for the city and simultaneously encouraging owners of vacant land to develop it. But the initial plans also created a problem: Urban farmers were caught in theRead more on modernfarmer.com