Click here for previous posts on urban farming and here for a past story on urban farming on multiple lots in Harrisburg City.
From Fox43 comes the story of Green Urban Initiative, an urban farming organization that leases and operates multiple lots in Harrisburg. On Wednesday, the City demolished one of GUI's lots at 6th and Curtin streets due to allegations that the property had fallen into disrepair and was being used to hide contraband, an allegation that GUI disputes.
Additional details have been reported on Pennlive. GUI's website can be found here.
What is most significant about this story goes beyond the demolition of this one garden. We are not talking about your average backyard vegetable garden with only a handful of various plants. Gardens of this type often encompass entire vacant lots - or even multiple contiguous lots.
GUI operates "multiple gardens throughout the City," according to the Fox-43 story. GUI apparently leases vacant lots from the City for this purpose. This practice provides further indication that gardening provides a more profitable use of certain vacant urban lots than traditional residential or commercial uses. That gardening is more profitable reflects not only increased prices in food and farm products, but also many obstacles to land development and investment, such as increased lending restrictions, real estate taxes, municipal regulations and fees, title defects due to prior tax sales and urban crime. The demolished lot in this case was located in a high crime area. All of those obstacles, while preventing building, repair or other development, would not interfere with gardening on land leased from the City.
In some cities outside of Pennsylvania, the possibility of increased urban farming has played a key factor in municipal plans for urban consolidation and population relocation.