Amid the concrete, steel, and asphalt of American cities, open space has long been celebrated and valued. From Chicago’s majestic Grant Park to New York City’s iconic Central Park, these civic treasures inspire pride and provide the setting where citizens gather for important celebrations. Land adjacent to these magnificent municipal commons is typically among the highest valued in the region.
As important as these monumental parks are, however, they do not tell the whole story about the importance of green space in cities. Similarly, but in a much more dispersed manner, neighborhood green spaces ranging from parks to playgrounds to backyards improve residents’ quality of life while creating value.
In Detroit, as in many cities across the United States, a distinctive type of open space—the urban garden—has emerged as another type of civic asset. Whether growing vegetables for the family table or flowers to sell at the local farmers market, such gardens have provided a way for families and communities to survive and thrive—leading healthier, happier, and more prosperous lives.