Solnick, Rachel

Start date:
September 2017
Research Topic:
Urban Farming Detroit
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Mitch Rose
Supervising school:
Primary funding source:

This project will consider the unique socio-political climate in Detroit and the potential for food sovereignty frameworks to have a direct influence on policy. It will analyse to what extent food sovereignty is practiced and if it fails or succeeds as a frame for the political objectives of Detroit farm’s. This project will investigate the indirect influences on policy that urban farms can have alongside the direct roles that participants in urban farming are taking to shift political paradigms. It will question how the value of community-grown farms challenges dominant neoliberal structures, considering what steps are being taken by Detroit farms to highlight the need for a ‘Post-Capitalist’ economy and engender political and economic reforms. With President Donald Trump calling for a more nationalistic agenda, we may already be moving into a ‘post-neoliberal’ era, but one that is still pro-corporate, racist and elitist. How will this affect both food governance and the potential of the food sovereignty framework in Detroit?

Research Question

Are the activities and example of Detroit Farms transforming political paradigms?

This question will be explored in the following ways:

  • To assess the radical alternative economic and transformative potential of Detroit’s urban farming systems.
  • To explore the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of the food sovereignty framework within Detroit farming. Does this framework nourish the non-capitalist values displayed by urban farms and demonstrate how community food production and food sovereignty has the potential to revive communities mired in racism and poverty.
  • To analyse the constraints of neoliberalism on the urban agriculture movement. How do farms frame and value their community contribution? Do Detroit farms authenticate alternative values enabling the creation of policies that benefit sustainable food production so that it is viewed as a public good, and residents have a right to its access? How does this enable and empower them to shift political and economic paradigms within the city and beyond?