Michigan State University will be launching its first urban food research center in Detroit in early 2018 with the goal of developing solutions to economic and nutritional challenges unique to urban environments. The MSU Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation plans to study soil sampling and pollution cleanup, pest and crop disease management, forestry, innovative growing systems, and community food systems development. Michigan State plans to invest $300,000 to launch the project and anticipates future support from state and federal sources.
“This research and extension center grew from years of discussions with Detroit leaders and residents. It’s an exciting new milestone after 100 years of Michigan State service in the community,” MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon said. “Food production is an increasingly urban global challenge and Detroit has the potential to be the kind of innovator in food systems that it’s long been for automobiles.”
The center plans to work with the community by creating opportunities for urban agriculture entrepreneurship and offering new partnerships for community and youth development. MSU’s 13 rural AgBioResearch field stations and MSU Extension work in every county of Michigan have laid the groundwork for the academic/public partnership. The MSU Extension staff will work with residents to optimize plant health and productivity, handle land contamination issues, and connect entrepreneurs with markets and networks.
“Downtown Detroit has seen a resurgence and transformation over the last several years and the neighborhoods have focused on blight and cleaning up abandoned houses,” Dwyer said. “Our goal, however, is to focus on the health and growth opportunities for neighborhoods throughout the city,” said MSU extension director Jeff Dwyer.