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Tastemakers: Detroit ( Urban Farming Capital)

Rick Coates - May 3rd, 2010
Detroit (Urban Farming Capital)
This past April, the Michigan Wine Industry celebrated its 35th Michigan Wine Month. While many sectors of the economy continue to struggle, the wine industry has been “bubbly.” In 2009 sales of Michigan wine increased 10 percent from 2008, and for the past 10 years the percentage of sales growth of Michigan wines has outpaced the total percentage of growth for wines from outside the state.
“Michigan’s grape and wine industry continues to grow with seven new wineries slated to open this year,” said Governor Granholm. “Not only is our wine industry a vital component of the state’s agricultural sector, it’s also an important part of our tourism industry as hundreds of thousands of people visit ‘Michigan’s Wine Country’ each year.”
Just last week the wineries of Northern Michigan hosted their Fourth Annual Wine Summit. Northern Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula, boasts 40 of Michigan’s 71 wineries and there’s speculation that another 10 to 15 wineries will open up north over the next couple of years. This bodes well for our region as the industry has become as important as beaches and golf courses in its ability to attract visitors.
So with much to celebrate in Northern Michigan it seemed a little shocking that sparkling wine guru Larry Mawby launched his new “Detroit” sparkler two weeks ago. Why not “Traverse City” “Petoskey” or the name of another cool town up here in North Country? (I want royalties if you end up launching a line of small town Northern Michigan sparklers).
“Detroit is to be enjoyed while celebrating the economic revival of Detroit,” said Mawby. “Now that an appropriate sparkling wine exists for celebrating the good times in Detroit, we’re confident that good times in Detroit will appear in ever greater numbers.”
Exactly what economic revival is Detroit experiencing?
“Agriculture,” said Mawby. “Within the city limits of Detroit there is nearly as much agricultural acreage available as we have on the Leelanau Peninsula.”
Just last week Detroit entrepreneur and urban farming pioneer John Hantz announced that he was willing to invest “30 million of his own fortune to make Detroit the urban agricultural capital of the world.”
From cars to crops? Hmm, will the annual Woodward Avenue Cruise Night now be combines and John Deere tractors?
Hantz has made an offer to purchase the former State Fairgrounds and plans to establish the model urban farm there. Detroit currently has several small community based non-profit farms and now it looks as if 40,000 acres of former neighborhoods and businesses districts will be razed and turned into commercial farmland.
So maybe there is a lot to celebrate in Detroit. Most of us here in Northern Michigan have a connection to the Motor City; we either grew up there, have been to concerts there, or follow the sports teams in Detroit. The success of Detroit during the auto industry’s heyday played a critical role in our economy here in Northern Michigan, with many tourists spending their vacations here, so we are all cheering for Detroit’s comeback, not to mention a first ever Super Bowl championship.
So cheers to Larry Mawby and Detroit for celebrating the economic revival of Detroit. The M. Lawrence sparkler is a blend of equal parts Riesling, Traminette, and Cayuga grapes and is tank fermented in a cuve close system, and finished with a demi sec dosage of 4% sugar. This bubbly has a hint of sweetness and pairs nicely with summer salads, fresh fruits and grilled poultry and fish. For additional information: …Rick Coates
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