Photo essay: Explore blighted area to be turned into 140-acre forest in Detroit

One of the largest-ever urban farming projects in the nation is underway on Detroit’s east side.

The 140-acre area is largely abandoned and littered with trash, tires, furniture, rotting homes and discarded boats. The plan by Hantz Farms is to transform the blight into an urban forest with 15,000 hardwood trees.

hantz garland vernor
From inside a vacant home
hantz Garland Kercheval
Vacant lots are strewn with everything imaginable.
Is this really Detroit? Looks like a prairie.
Much of the area has been reduced to an urban prairie.
Elnora Wade hopes the tree farms will remove the eyesores.
Elnora Wade hopes the tree farms will remove the eyesores.
Another boat is abandoned on the road.
Discarded boats are a common find.
None of the vacant lots is maintained.
Sidewalks are overgrown.
Hantz Crane Vernor1
A lot of vacant space.
hantz crane vernor
Hantz Farms also plans to demolish vacant homes.
hantz belvidere
Many of the homes are not salvageable.
Hantz Farms pledged to demolish 50 abandoned houses.
Hantz Farms pledged to demolish 50 abandoned houses.
Tires will be cleaned up during the project.
Tires will be cleaned up during the project.
Some roads look rural.
Some roads look rural.
Abandoned houses attract fires and crime.
Abandoned houses attract fires and crime.
Among the abandoned buildings are small stores.
Among the abandoned buildings are small stores.
But it may be a tree farm.
But it may be a tree farm.
Message scrawled on abandoned house encourages students to stay in school.
Message encourages students to stay in school.
Abandoned houses often are alone, the last standing on the block.
Abandoned houses often are the last standing on the block.
This is the largest building to be acquired during the land deal.
This is the largest building to be acquired during the land deal.
Known as "Murder Bears," the stuffed animals are part of a makeshift memorial.
Known as “Murder Bears,” the stuffed animals are part of a makeshift memorial.
Fires are common and exhaust resources.
Fires are common and exhaust resources.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Marian Pyszko

    The reintroduction of black bear, mountain lions and wolves should improve the city greatly…..

  • Rebecca Eatmon

    They found my Will E’s body in one dem houses.

  • Sizz

    I actually like the abandoned homes. All of them tell a story and gives us a renewed interest in photography in Detroit. At least it gives us something to look at instead of a large open field.

    • SnowStormsinDetroit

      Yea but unfortunately so do rapist.. Sooooooo.

  • bebow

    Is Hantz going to remove the sidewalks?

    • muckraker_steve

      It appears he is not.