How can you build efficient Urban communities, homes, and businesses?

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Thoughts on urban farming, from a farmer perspective

This is going to be a long rambling post, forewarning because I'm a talker and I've been doing a lot of thinking about this.
I have been very interested in blight in Detroit for several years now. It is a topic that always seem to bubble back to the front of my mind. I have family in Lansing and my dad grew up in Oak Park. I was born around that area but now live on the family farm in SE Ohio. While I don't see myself wanting to live there, at least not for several years, I have a lot of ideas and a burning desire to discuss them and would love to see them implemented. I will try to do this somewhat organized by more specific topic. These ideas would be based on my idea of the kind of community I would love to see evolve. Ideas that better the land and people in the area, to be done by each household for their own specific needs or big projects that would most likely be done by the community as a group.

In my head I imagine that each block will have anywhere from 1 house to 10 houses. Some people might gather and find 5 people to band together and live communally in 1 house on 1 block and as a 'micro-community' own and manage that block. They might all get crazy about market gardening and build the block into a great garden to sell to the local area. They might all get crazy about different things and each find a niche market to work and manage on that block.
Someone might be really crazy about bees and buy up several lots to live on and have several hives and plant lots of meadows and wildlife area. Someone might only want a house but in a cool area like this. Someone might get really into chickens and have a lot entirely dedicated to chickens and they sell to the local area. Someone might really get into soil reparation and buy up empty lots and do all the early prep work to make good soil and flip it ready to garden/whatever at a higher price to people who don't really want to do that stuff.
I think some people will be there because they like the environment that is created but work 'regular jobs' and some people will be there because they make a spot and a job for themselves. I think communities will happen organically and be a hodgepodge of mostly-house blocks and mostly-land blocks.

~Soil testing for heavy metals and whatever other very harmful toxins.
This could mean some areas will be immediately usable and some may need to be managed for several years planting strategic non-edible 'crops' to be harvested and disposed of to lessen the amounts in the soil. As well as utilizing strategies to import manure and carbon matter to very quickly build healthy soil on top.

~Water testing. I happily have well water and there are many springs but I would be very leery of groundwater (ie toxins) and the condition of the available city water. Even given decent city water if I were to be moving there I would definitely have a water filtering system prioritized.

~Humanure. Now hear me out before everyone panics. Humanure is where you take human manure, properly handled, and compost and age it before using it like any other compost. Ideally you have a system that can compost for 2 years before being used and without a shadow of a doubt there is nothing harmful left in it. Also ideally your main system is used by people that are not on medications, and that humanure could be specially marked for use on non-edible areas.
This could be done on the household scale or on a community scale with one person managing as a job and somehow being compensated (paid) by the community.

~Feral cat/dog management. I haven't seen anything in person but from my reading and research it is reported that some areas of Detroit are near overrun with feral dog packs that are quite vicious. That would be a very big priority. Honestly though any loose dog is a huge problem, either digging and crapping in the gardens/crops or killing livestock or other pets. Being a farmer and in talking to others and listening/watching a wide range of conference events and speakers, pet dogs are *the* top of the predator problem for most farmers with livestock.

~Greywater. This is something newer to my knowledge base and I don't yet have any experience actually using greywater systems but it seems ridiculous to me to waste water. Water runoff from showers/tubs and washing machines and sinks can all be sent through a greywater recycling system to be used to water lawns and gardens (long as you use good soap and not detergents and chemicals) and if not can be used to flush toilets (where they are used, although if I'm building a community from scratch I'd like to see as little of them used as possible)

~Any modern roof should have water catchment and be diverted into either crop irrigation holding tanks, ponds, or swales.

~Planting wooded areas for future harvesting (nut trees, fruit trees, firewood,..)

~Adding texture to the landscape. Hills and valleys are necessary microclimates for different wild animals and soil life. Diversity ensures continuation. Building strategic banks (look up hugelkulture) will also help as a windbreak and sound barrier. This can work hand in hand with public areas, wildlife areas, garden/crop areas,...

~Guard animals. I don't have any experience with livestock guardian dogs but have seen from others that they can be make or break in protecting livestock from predator animals and people. However it is important to note that they do not help against other dogs (feral/pet). Donkeys make great guards especially against dogs/coyotes but as a rule they cannot be with other animals and would have to be well planned for to be utilized well. Geese make great alarms. They can chase off people and some cats and dogs, but the persistent ones will not be deterred that easily by geese honking and nipping. However they make such a racket that the offenders are much less likely to cause problems without setting them off to let you know something is going on.

~If urban farming becomes a big thing there will eventually be a bonanza over zoning and legality of this residential and commercial zoned areas.

From here down is some more specific rambling about the actual workings of urban farming and pros/cons and utopia/dystopia.

~Let's assume that animals actually need 3 times more space than you are thinking they do. Now times that by 3 or 4 because you will have current use areas, resting areas, and ready to move into areas. This becomes real problematic in an urban setting with livestock of any large size.

~I would assume in the beginning people will be limited to rabbits, chickens, ducks. These can be fairly easily managed in one city back yard. BUT. You will have them in confined areas and be buying or bringing in the entirety of their food and be managing manure. Example- you build cages and have rabbits. Doesn't have to take up much sq ft because you can easily stack cages or have an efficient hutch setup. Maybe 60sq ft. Now as long as you can manage it steadily you could produce quite a lot of rabbit meat and have a plenty supply of manure to put around your garden plants. Add about 60 sq ft again for some compost staging and you could add a thick layer to your garden or crop every year.
Cons.. You are buying feed and hay (-$)
Pros.. You could produce enough meat to supplement your family and have plenty to sell (+$). If you learn to tan the furs you could have another side business (+$). If you don't have a green thumb you could work out taking the manure to someone else (+$) or some sort of trade for produce from them.

~Someone could have larger animals but it begins to get much more complicated quickly. Either you focus on a good setup and dry lot them (no pasture, you bring in feed/hay and manage manure 100%)
Or you focus on investing in electric netting and buying up many lots, still bringing in feed/hay and managing manure but much less of it during the warm months. You'd still have to have a home-base dry lot for overnight, winter months, cases of lacking pasture growth, parasite load,..... (pasture, much less bringing in feed/hay and manure management)
Or you focus on a very small amount of animals and herd/shepherd them around. This is much the same as previous with the electric net except you are limited to the time you can herd/shepherd them. This could mean much more or much less pasture time. On the plus side something like this with a few goats with a real sturdy dry lot and who are well trained to herding, they could do tremendous work in reclaiming heavily overgrown lots without heavy equipment.

~I can easily see someone who was dedicated to it having several sheep or goats. Based on the way that I want to manage livestock and from my research what seems to work the best.... I could not imagine doing it myself without buying several blocks of no-building lots, having a herding dog, having electric netting, and being able to support myself so that I could care for them almost entirely.

I have many ideas and am constantly throwing around possibilities. If there is any questions about any of this I would be glad to answer as best I can.

I can speak on the environmental aspect of that, leaded soil can be managed with capping and raised gardens can be brought in to separate the vegetation from the leaded soil.  Most plants won't uptake it anyway. Several schools in Indy have been capped this way for their playgrounds and raised gardens.  To be real, most folks in the inner city barely know where their food comes from, and they shop at gas stations and pharmacies or get fast food.  Farmer's markets would be the best idea to introduce the concept and bring some animals along with a little bit of teaching lectures to get the idea out there.  The urban farms I've heard about are one guy managing several smaller plots and selling them at food markets or to restaurants.  Detroit has a huge one with a fresh market warehouse for selling products.

Backyard chickens - There's been a recent outbreak of salmonella from pullets people bought for their backyards and what their kids playing with them and letting them in the house, they got sick.  So education is just as important.

This is where I think 4-H and county extensions could be a real asset, even the city.  Take the best agricultural resources from the country and duplicate it in the city.