I found the recent NYTimes piece "Finding the Potential in Vacant Lots" fascinating. Good job, Michael Tortorello!
It makes the case that the number of vacant lots in Rust Belt cities is a huge and growing problem. Just one factoid proves that – the city of Cleveland spends $3.3 million a year mowing them.
But in desperation, people are trying some innovative solutions:
One Ultra-Ex project being led by the Cleveland Botanical Garden involves planting a vacant lot in the Buckeye neighborhood with low-mow fescue, a slow-growing pasture grass, and establishing a vegetative fence. Down the block is one of six learning farms that the botanical garden runs through its Green Corps program. With three acres under cultivation and 60 teenage workers, the urban farms will grow and sell or give away 15,000 pounds of fresh produce this summer, said the program’s director, Geri Unger.