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Residents of Detroit have a distorted view of how much land is being used for gardens, new study.

Gentian flowers from Iwate are featured in the victory bouquets for Olympic medalists.
Merrit Kennedy
/
NPR
Gentian flowers from Iwate are featured in the victory bouquets for Olympic medalists.

There’s been so much news coverage about urban gardening in Detroit, that people have a distorted view of how much land is being used for gardens.

Leafing through a new University of Michigan study, you’ll find in Detroit’s Lower Eastside, only one percent of the vacant land is made up of private and community gardens. One reason there are not more gardens is uncertainty about whether the land can be used.

Joshua Newell is the lead author of the study. He says there are more benefits for more residents when gardens are scattered, providing both food and community building.

“Rather than a large, centralized sort of garden that would take up multiple city blocks. And if we want to really provide benefits to people, we need to locate these throughout the neighborhood.”

And the study has identified those vacant lots where growing crops would be especially beneficial.