Former Boeing CEO: Despite birth pains, 787 Dreamliner will be technology …



Jim Albaugh former Boeing Commerical Airplanes CEO

Jim Albaugh former CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (in a 2010 file photo) still believes the 787 Dreamliner will become his sector’s model transportation mode.











Steve Wilhelm
Staff Writer- Puget Sound Business Journal

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Despite its severe birthing pains, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner will be a technology benchmark for years to come.

That’s the word from former Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh, who granted an interview days after he spoke on a April 8 panel of senior engineers at the Museum of Flight.

He served as Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO from 2009 through 2012, when he was abruptly replaced, at age 62, by current CEO Ray Conner. Prior to that he ran Boeing’s defense unit, from 2002 through 2009.  Here’s an interview the Puget Sound Business Journal did on lessons from the 787, in 2010.

Among other things, Albaugh is credited with leading the recovery of 787 production toward normalcy, after the very chaotic two years before he took over.

“It’s going to be a remarkable airplane. It is now,” he said of the 787. “And I really believe that 20 to 30 years from now people will still be measuring airplanes that are built against 787. I think it’s going to be that good.”

The 787 Dreamliner landed in Portland two years ago. Several of Boeing’s 1,500 workers from its Gresham parts and maintenance facility greeted the plane at the time.

Albaugh suggested that part of the reason why the model had so many problems getting going was that it advanced the technology so much.

“We didn’t take an incremental approach whatsoever; it was a real step change,” he said. ““Everything we did after the 707 was really a derivative. They were all-aluminum airplanes, flight controls kind of evolved… Here we go all of a sudden to an all-composite airplane, all-electric airplane, huge changes — nothing incremental about the 787.”

Steve Wilhelm covers manufacturing, aerospace and trade for the Puget Sound Business Journal.

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Everett draws President Obama for solemn visit; Snohomish County a worthy …

With President Barack Obama landing at Payne Field in Everest, Wash., on Tuesday, the eyes of the world inevitably are upon the city and Snohomish County.

The president will stop briefly in Washington state, on his way to a conference in Asia,  to survey the damage from the Oso landslide and to meet with those it affected. He left Payne Field by helicopter to Oso.

The occasion offers me a chance to revisit my last major story on Everest and the county where I attended high school. It has much to offer visitors and deserves considerations by Oregonians when they are planning summer travel in the Northwest.

Published July 10, 2011:

Something in the air makes a visit to Everett special.

Where else can you simultaneously see three Dreamlifters, the enlarged Boeing 747s re-engineered to deliver airplane parts to the Boeing factory at Paine Field? There are only four of these monsters in the world, with their expanded fuselages and tails that swing open sideways for loading.

These planes fly around retrieving parts that are assembled into Boeing 787s, the oft-delayed Dreamliner, which will finally enter commercial service this year. Come to think of it, where else can you see five parked Boeing 787s waiting for engines to be installed, other than at Everett’s Paine Field, 25 miles north of Seattle?

The best show in town is still at the airport, no matter how much Everett tries to recast itself as a blooming arts community, a pleasure-boating destination with the West Coast’s largest public marina and a mid-size entertainment venue.

The town remains blue-collar at heart, a legacy of its logging, railroad, ore processing and shipping roots. But that means you can still book the best hotel downtown (the Holiday Inn) for a little more than $100 per night.

Everett is the seat of Snohomish County, which sprawls from Puget Sound to the Cascades just north of Seattle and King County. Everett has about one-seventh of the county’s population of 700,000, but the smaller towns of Edmonds and Snohomish have captured most of the interest among visitors.

Except when it comes to airplanes.

 

Air attractions

About 10 miles southwest of downtown Everett, the comings and goings of Boeing aircraft are free for the watching. More recently, four commercial air attractions have grown up around the airport.

Paine Field has moved beyond being where airplane lovers gather to watch the early flights of Boeing wide-body jets. Also called Snohomish County Airport, it’s now the place to see historic warbirds in flight, to watch painstaking reconstruction of classic passenger jets and to ogle the latest airplane in the collection of Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen.

On a rare sunny day this spring, nearly all 15 airplanes that are usually tucked inside the Historic Flight Foundation’s hangar at Paine Field were outside on the tarmac being readied to fly in an air show.

Steve Gyuro, a Boeing software engineer from nearby Mill Creek, was adding spit polish to the foundation’s P-51B Mustang, which flew four sorties on D-Day in 1944.

The star of the hangar, a B-25 Mitchell bomber from World War II nicknamed Grumpy, was off to Spokane to collect a guest, so a 1929 Travel Air executive aircraft caught my eye next. Owned by Phillips Petroleum, it was a precursor to the first “corporate jet.” The plane held five passengers and two crew members and had an on-board commode.

Passenger aircraft restoration is a major focus at another of Paine Field’s air attractions, the Museum of Flight Restoration Center. The museum itself, with one of the top aircraft displays in the country, is at Seattle’s Boeing Field, but restoration takes place in Snohomish County.

A multi-year project is the first Boeing 727-22, which entered service for United Airlines in 1964, counted 48,060 landings and 3 million passengers before it was donated (minus many usable parts). The restoration center offers an even closer look at a 1959 de Havilland DH-106 Comet, the first commercial jet.

Unlike at the restoration center, displays in Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection are restored to near-original condition before the public gets a look. Most impressive are a MiG 29 from 1981, one of a small number of privately owned Cold War Soviet fighters, and a Focke Wulf 190 D-13 Dora, the only such long-nose model to survive World War II. The German fighter is close to flying condition but is too rare to take to the sky again.

Across Paine Field from the Flying Heritage Collection, the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour ushered in the airport’s visitor renaissance when it opened in 2005. The center has a number of modern aircraft displays and has hosted many a party for dignitaries, but it’s main function is to organize crowds onto buses for a tour of the world’s largest building.

The Boeing Factory opened in 1967 across a highway from Paine Field as the manufacturing site of every Boeing wide-body plane. (This changed last month with the debut of a second assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C.)

An hour’s tour of a building with 472 million cubic feet may sound trite, but it’s enthralling. The tour stops twice on balconies that overlook the assembly floor, where Boeing makes its two-aisle passenger jets.

A tour guide says the building has 2.3 miles of pedestrian tunnels below the assembly floor and that 1,300 bicycles are kept on site so workers can move around quickly. Most mesmerizing, though, are the planes in various stages of assembly.

In addition to the Dreamliner, Boeing is producing its biggest plane, a 747-800, which is 20 feet longer than the original 1967 jumbo jet.

Artistic endeavors

After a Boeing tour, out-of-town visitors may head down to the waterfront at Mukilteo or Everett for a meal, then drift elsewhere to spend the night.

Downtown Everett is working to change that, though it takes time to remake a blue-collar mill town into an arts and entertainment destination. Events at Comcast Arena give the evenings a pulse, while a budding arts community and civic pride have the streets looking good.

Marc Wise remembers how Everett got into the arts tourism business.

“It was mid-2007, right before the start of the recession,” lamented the owner of WiseDesignz, a modest art gallery near the new Hewitt Avenue National Historic District. “We started with four businesses. It wasn’t really a walk, but we called it one.”

The Everett Art Walk, now with 30 participants, is held the third Saturday evening of the month.

Borrowing an idea from Tacoma, where the Museum of Glass helped revitalize a downtrodden downtown when it opened in 2002, Everett welcomed the $6.2 million Schack Art Center in April. It has a hot shop where visitors can watch glass artists at work, a display gallery and studio lofts where artists live and work. The goal is to create a three-block area on Hoyt Avenue as an arts center.

Donna Doces recently partnered with a daughter and granddaughter to open Blue Heart Art, one of the stops on the art walk.

“We’re doing what we can to get people downtown, to make it a fun place to be at night,” Doces said. “We’re throwing a bunch of things into the pot: art, coffee, consignment, furniture, home decor. We’re trying hard to not be called a gallery. You say gallery and people think high prices, but this is still Everett.”

The airplanes may fly high over town, but this is still a down-to-earth city.

Best of Everett

Air attractions: Paine Field at the Snohomish County Airport is 10 miles southwest of downtown Everett. About 50 businesses, including four air attractions for visitors, are spread around the complex. Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour, Flying Heritage Collection, Historic Flight Foundation and Museum of Flight Restoration Center have joined to create the “Paine Field Passport.” Look for their phone numbers and websites at painefieldpassport.com.

Cycling: Everett is hilly and has few bike lanes, so bike commuters are rare. There is a paved trail that makes a horseshoe along the water and Marine View Drive. Weekend riding focuses on long-distance trails: Interurban (south Everett/north Seattle) and Centennial (Snohomish/Arlington).

Water sports: The Navy’s home port for the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln (an aircraft carrier) and its support fleet dominates the port, but Everett also has a busy pleasure craft marina with the state’s largest public launch (13 lanes). Kayak rentals, whale-watching tours and a seasonal passenger ferry to undeveloped Jetty Island keep the waterfront busy.

Art: The new Schack Art Center (2921 Hoyt Ave., schack.org) brings display space and working artists to downtown. Everett Art Walk (everettartwalk.org) is held the third Saturday evening of the month. Everett has a symphony and theater, and public art is displayed at Comcast Arena and Everett Station transportation center.

Dining: The waterfront has a pod of newish eateries (Anthony’s Woodfire Grill, Lombardi’s Italian, Scuttlebutt Brewing Co.), while downtown has many small diners, delis and pubs (Sisters, Alligator Soul, Pave Deli, Prohibition Grille, Irishmen) for the business crowd by day and the 10,000-seat arena crowd by night.

Lodging: The Holiday Inn (3105 Pine St., 866-700-1188, hieverett.com) is tops downtown; the Inn at Port Gardner (1700 W. Marine Drive, 888-252-6779, innatportgardner.com) is a boutique on the waterfront; Gaylor House fills the BB niche (3301 Grand Ave., 888-507-7177, gaylordhouse.com).

Now featured: Snohomish County is highlighting the local craft beverage industry. The Everett area has 36 unique wineries, breweries and
distilleries, from the organic Bluewater Distilling to ever-popular
Scuttlebutt Brewing Co.; localliquidarts.com.

Tourism office: Snohomish County Tourism, 888-338-09756, snohomish.org.

– Terry Richard

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I Can Make to launch model plane and train kits for 3D printers, Airfix for a … – Pocket

I Can Make is a British company that specialises in creating designs for model airplanes and trains where the pieces can be build using a 3D printer. Like with Airfix kits of old, kids and adults alike will be able to construct classic craft from individual plastic parts. However, the difference is that the user prints each piece themselves first.

The company will be launching 12 I Can Make Kits by autumn 2014, with the first two being unveiled at Maker Faire UK in Newcastle Upon Tyne on 26 April: Stephenson’s Rocket and a Gloster E28/29 jet aircraft.

I Can Make will follow that up with patterns for a replica model of SpaceShipOne, launching at the US Maker Faire in San Mateo on 17 May.

Because you are making the parts yourself, you can print them out in whatever colours you choose and as often as you like. Once purchased, the kits are yours to do with what you like. There will also be accessory packs for more expert makers.

Find out more from I Can Make’s official website at icanmake.co.

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Helicopter-Truck Hybrid Is Every General’s Wet Dream

Military
black-knight-3

Published on April 21st, 2014
by Christopher DeMorro

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Flying cars have long been a dream of modern man…but what about a flying truck? The Black Knight Transformer is a transforming helicopter-truck hybrid. Though the first test flight of a scale model achieved less than ten feet of height, the possibilities of this vehicle are virtually endless.

After countless scale models, including the aforementioned field test vehicle, a working, full-size version was made from available on-the-market parts. This makes it a particularly viable project, should the military follow through with development. Of course this is a military project, built by perennial military contractor Advanced Tactics, which also developed a smaller cargo-only model called the Panther.

The Black Knight is meant to be delivered to soldiers in the field needing an emergency evacuation or simply more mobility. The ability to change from helicopter to truck is as simple as folding the four rotors into the side of the vehicle, at which point it can be loaded with soldiers or munitions. Furthermore, it can be remotely operated, or driven manually, giving tacticians the option of pilot-less delivery through hostile airspace without risking valuable pilots. Sure, it might not be the typical kind of military hybrid I’m used to writing about…but it’s too cool not to write about either. Real life Optimus Prime right here.

The possibilities are endless, and thought he Black Knight isn’t quite ready for duty just yet, you can bet battle plans utilizing its versatility are already being imagined.

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Source: PopSci

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About the Author

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. When he isn’t wrenching or writing, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.


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  • I don’t think it needs to be said how spectacularly inefficient and expensive such a vehicle would be. This is a super-niche vehicle that could never outcompete dedicated trucks or aircraft.

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Elon Musk and Spacex plan to recover and refly a first rocket stage in 2015

According to Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of mission assurance, the next Falcon 9 launch scheduled for May will also try for a water recovery.

The next step, assuming sea crews are unable to recover the rocket from Friday’s launch, is to return a first stage to a precision touchdown on land and determine what might be necessary to prepare it for another flight.

Musk hopes SpaceX can recover a Falcon 9 booster this year and fly a used first stage for the first time in 2015.

SpaceX plans to clad the rocket’s single-engine upper stage with a heat shield with an eye toward reusing it as well. The company has not disclosed a timetable for a potential recovery of the second stage.

“We don’t have to just recover it,” Musk said. “We have to show that it can be reflown quickly and easily, where the only thing you [have to do] is reload propellant.”

Here are the estimated costs for one use and partially reusable and more reusable Spacex rockets.

One use Falcon 9 rocket launch cost $1,862/lb
One use Falcon Heavy launch cost $1000/lb
The above costs are from Wikipedia and the Spacex website.

First stage reusable Falcon 9 launch cost $1200/lb
First stage reusable Falcon Heavy launch cost $600/lb

The cost of fuel and the Spacex rockets has been repeated a few times.

Musk reiterated the origin of the SpaceX production model, saying fuel is only 0.3 percent of the total cost of a rocket, with construction materials accounting for no more than 2 percent of the total cost, which for the Falcon 9 is about $60 million.

Musk said that a rocket’s first stage accounts for three-quarters of its total price tag, so a vehicle with a reusable first stage can be produced at far less cost — assuming the hardware is fully and rapidly reusable.

A reusable rocket stage would be able to launch about 80% of the cargo of a one use rocket. The weight of fuel is needed to fly the stage back and the extra weight of landing legs and other modifications for reuse have to be carried.

Two launches with second reusing the first stage.
Capital cost – 1.25 times the cost of one full rocket.
0.6% for fuel
Launch cargo 1.6 times the cargo of one rocket.
78% of the cost of a single use rocket

Three launches with reuse of the first stage twice.
Capital cost – 1.5 times the cost of one rocket
0.9% for fuel
Launch cargo 2.4 times the cargo of one rocket
62.5% of the cost of a single use rocket

50% of the cost with five launches and four reuses of the first stage [$930 per pound for the 9 v1.1 and $500 per pound for the heavy]

Reusable first stage falcon heavy [with about twenty reuses] can get down to about $350/lb [one third the one use price].

Reusable (about fifteen times) Falcon 9 rocket launch cost all stages reusable $100/lb [all three stages of a falcon heavy, should get to about ten times cheaper]


If there is solid and new demand then Spacex will move faster on second and third stage reuse. But I think Elon will still move later. Spacex is able to make the mods at relatively low cost.

Spacex is pretty busy for the next 2-3 years perfecting the first stage reuse and getting Spacex Heavy flying.
Then they will get around to the second and third stage reuse.


The unfortunate thing with the space shuttle was originally the design of the shuttle was, I think, fairly well-suited for good reuse, but then the requirements changed and that made it very difficult to reuse efficiently,” Musk said. “As long as we’re able to hold to our requirements, I think we’ll be able to achieve rapid and essentially complete reuse.”

The space shuttle’s winged orbiter and segments of its solid rocket boosters were used many times, but the program was stymied by bloated costs and multi-month turnarounds between missions.

The next step, assuming sea crews are unable to recover the rocket from Friday’s launch, is to return a first stage to a precision touchdown on land and determine what might be necessary to prepare it for another flight.

“The reuse must be both rapid and complete, like an aircraft or a car,” Musk said. “If you have to disassemble and reassemble a car and change a bunch of parts in between driving it, it would make it quite expensive”.

Robert Cleave, president of Lockheed Martin’s launch services unit, said Lockheed Martin has interest in launcher reusability, but he doubted the paradigm was economically or technically viable in the near future. The Atlas 5 rocket is one of SpaceX’s main rivals in the U.S. domestic launch market.

Stephane Israel, chairman and CEO of Arianespace, another SpaceX rival, also said reusability was not on the French launch services company’s horizon for next few decades.

If you liked this article, please give it a quick review on ycombinator or StumbleUpon. Thanks

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Suspected North Korea Drone Is ‘Model Airplane’ or ‘Antique’

A suspected North Korean drone that crashed in the neighboring South does not illustrate a leap in the secretive state’s military technology, experts said Tuesday.

The wreckage of the unmanned aircraft found on the disputed island of Baengnyeong was described as appearing to be little more than “a model airplane fitted with a camera.”

Based on scant information from its public military parades, North Korea is thought to have larger drones in its arsenal. But much like the rest of its creaking military, even these models are past their prime and considered by Western states to be “antiques,” according to North Korea watchers.

Image: Wreckage of a crashed drone on Baengnyeong islandYONHAP via AFP – Getty Images

The remains of the light-blue drone were found Monday after Pyongyang and Seoul fired hundreds of shells over their disputed maritime boundary. It was similar to another drone that South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported had been found near the border town of Paju on March 24.

Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., co-founder of Colorado-based intelligence contractor AllSource Analysis, said Kim Jong Un’s regime bases its unmanned aircraft on old Western technology which is sold through countries such as Syria.

“North Korea has had drones for a number of years now,” he said. “This one looks like it has had a modified fuselage and been fitted with a camera – imagine a model airplane with a camera. It seems to have some of the characteristics of other North Korean drones we know about.”

Paul Schulte, a visiting senior research fellow in the department of war studies at London’s Kings College, agreed: “The aircraft is so small that it looks as though it could not have flown from anywhere else [other than North Korea] – that is unless it is from South Korea and they haven’t identified it, but that is less likely.”

“They put a lot of emphasis of their fighting spirit because they have not got much else”

The main problem in confirming the drone’s origin is that relatively little is known about North Korea’s military capabilities. Mark Fitzpatrick, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), said in an article last year that the inner workings of the hermit nation were “an intelligence black hole.”

Estimates put Pyongyang’s defense spending between 20 percent and 30 percent of its GDP, and much has been made of its nuclear tests and threats to launch missiles at the U.S. mainland. But a Pentagon report to Congress last month described North Korea’s armed forces as being blighted by “significant resource shortages and aging hardware.”

Related story: ‘A big hoax’: Experts say North Korea showing off missiles that can’t fly

Far from being Cold War technology, some of it was last considered cutting-edge more than 50 years ago, according to Dr. James Hoare of the Centre of Korean Studies at SOAS, University of London.

“Much of their military force is pretty decrepit, with a lot of World War II stuff,” Hoare said. “They put a lot of emphasis of their fighting spirit because they have not got much else.”

North Korea showed off its drones during a live-fire drill in March last year. It used the unmanned planes as targets for surface-to-air missiles and claimed they could carry out a precision strike by flying into a target. Its arsenal was further hinted at during one of Pyongyang’s ostentatious parades in July when unidentified drones were shown being carried on the back of trucks.

Image: North Korean TV shows drone planes during a drill in March 2013.North Korean TV via AFP – Getty Images, file

The Pentagon report said the drones in the live-fire drill appeared to be based on an MQM-107 Streaker, a jet-powered aircraft used by the United States to tow missile targets in the 1980s.

“These aircraft are considered to be antique,” Schulte said. “They were delivered to the U.S. in 1984 and donated to the U.S. Air Force museum in 1990. This is not a modern aircraft.”

Schulte said as far as the West knows these North Korean planes are not capable of carrying weapons.

In addition to the Streaker, Yonhap said it has confirmed that North Korea also uses a reconnaissance plane from China, the D-4. “This too is something of an antique and was deployed in 1983,” Schulte said.

A map showing the island of Baengnyeong, South Korea, where a drone thought to be from the North was found Monday.Google

But Fitzpatrick, who is director of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme at IISS, said the West should not be complacent about the capabilities of North Korea.

“Further North Korean provocations are now more probable,” he said. “In order to solidify internal support, Kim may again choose to create an external crisis,” such as the attack on a South Korean vessel that killed 46 seamen in 2010.

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Urban agriculture projects finally getting under way in Detroit

As springtime blossoms in Detroit, two long-promised big urban agriculture efforts finally are getting under way in earnest.

On Friday, the RecoveryPark project off East Grand Boulevard began construction of a “high tunnel,” a sort of greenhouse measuring 30 by about 145 feet, in which more than two dozen varieties of herbs and vegetables will be grown for sale to local restaurants and markets.

And on May 17, about 500 volunteers are expected to plant thousands of saplings for the Hantz Woodlands urban forest project on about 20 acres of cleared, vacant land on Detroit’s east side.

Together, the two projects represent both the vision and the challenges confronting advocates of large-scale urban farming in the city.

Detroit, with its dozens of square miles of vacant land, potentially could support a vast agricultural industry producing food for a hungry city and region. The Detroit Future City framework for the city’s reshaping enthusiastically backs the development of urban farming in Detroit.


Related:
Council OKs sale of 1,500 lots for Hantz urban farming project


Related:
Foundation showers $1M on plan to grow food, raise fish at RecoveryPark in Detroit

But both RecoveryPark and the Hantz project took roughly five years to get to this point from their initial proposals. More than 1,000 small nonprofit community and school garden plots dot the city already, but the growth of large-scale agricultural projects in the city has been slowed by fears of corporate land grabs, concerns over soil contamination and the slow pace of city bureaucracy in approving such efforts.

Ken Cockrel Jr., the former interim mayor and now head of the implementation office for the Detroit Future City visionary framework for the city’s revitalization, said the two projects fit squarely into the future city program.

“I think it’s a positive thing for the city of Detroit,” he said. And noting that numerous small community garden plots already operate in the city, Cockrel said of the larger projects, “I think it’s an opportunity to take an industry that’s already here and take it to the next level.”

Dan Carmody, president of the nonprofit Eastern Market Corp. that operates the city’s main public market, said the Hantz and RecoveryPark projects are part of the experimentation needed to develop a broader food industry in the city.

“I think we have the opportunity to do a wide variety of projects, inclusive of all sorts of scale,” he said. “I think urban agriculture can fit into both interim and long-term use, but we also have to figure out the market for those products so the concepts are sustainable.”

RecoveryPark

The RecoveryPark project is a nonprofit venture sponsored by SHAR, an addiction recovery agency. It hopes to raise money in an urban agriculture business to support its social mission.

Headed by Gary Wozniak, a former businessman and recovering substance abuser, the effort won $1 million in funding from the Erb Foundation and owns an old industrial building on East Grand Boulevard where its high tunnel is being built.

The high tunnel is just the first phase of what RecoveryPark hopes to accomplish. Wozniak is planning on setting up hydroponic facilities inside the industrial building to grow plants in trays containing a liquid medium. Wozniak also is negotiating with the City of Detroit to buy some tax-foreclosed surplus land on the east side to build a series of high tunnels.

Eventually, he hopes to manufacture fish tanks in one facility to operate a fish farm in another, all parts of a growing food business that will support SHAR’s mission of helping substance abusers’ recovery. The first high tunnel is just the start, he said.

“The whole goal of it is to demonstrate that we have the capability to execute projects, that we can hit the mark on the quality of our produce and the price point,” he said.

The high tunnel is being built on a concrete slab on which gravel will be placed for a base, with boxes known as raised beds containing fresh dirt for planting.

RecoveryPark recently hired Michelle Lutz, an organic farmer who will oversee growing operations. She has been negotiating with two restaurants to buy RecoveryPark’s produce — the Root in White Lake Township and the restaurant training center Colors in downtown Detroit.

“I hope to grow some really great food that the metro Detroit population really needs,” she said Friday. “I hope to develop farming systems that aid in the recovery of the city but also meet the RecoveryPark mission of creating jobs for people who have barriers to employment.”

Hantz Woodlands

The Hantz Woodlands team already cleaned up about 50 of the 150 acres it bought from the City of Detroit last year, hauling away brush and dumped tires and removing nuisance species that tend to grow in thickets. The team also mowed the grass so that the vacant land looks cleaner than it has for years.

The Hantz project is recruiting 500 volunteers to plant 15,000 three- to five-foot saplings on May 17. A GPS-guided digging machine will bore out the holes in straight lines and the volunteers will follow, planting a sapling at the rate of every two minutes or so. With enough volunteers, they could be done in an hour, said Mike Score, president of Hantz Farms, the parent organization of the Woodlands project. After the planting, everyone will celebrate with a cookout.

“The whole purpose really is to make this area more livable,” Score said. “When we did this (cleanup), our neighbors said we were on the right track. They said this is definitely better. It’s cleaner and safer.”

When businessman and Detroit resident John Hantz initially suggested he be permitted to operate a large commercial farm in the city, he proposed growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, Christmas trees and other products, as well as operating an agriculture tourism site. Those proposals were downsized in years of discussions with city leaders, who balked at allowing large-scale commercial farming.

The objections to commercial farming stem from multiple concerns, from noise and pollution to fears that corporate farming will crowd out the city’s numerous nonprofit community gardeners. As a result, Hantz would have to seek another permit before his woodlands project would be allowed to sell anything.

Some day, Score said, Hantz Woodlands may operate a nursery business from its site, selling saplings, or harvesting trees for model airplane kits. A lumber business in which mature trees could be harvested for timber, is decades away.

For now, Score said: “We’re not dreaming of going way beyond trees. We’re going to set up a really nice well-managed tree farm in this part of the city and keep it clean and mowed.”

Challenges remain

Whether the RecoveryPark and Hantz Woodlands and other large-scale agricultural efforts expand and prosper depend on many things: On the support of municipal leaders who control planning and zoning decisions, on nonprofit community farmers accepting commercial ventures and perhaps most of all on the savvy of the large-scale farmers themselves.

“I feel like we have to grow a crop that is affordable,” Lutz said. “We really have to pay attention to who our consumer is going to be. And I also feel that you have to have a very diverse marketing strategy.”

Put simply, produce that is too expensive might go unsold. That puts a premium on smart business practices and cost controls.

“The challenges are that we have to make sure we are growing that product super-efficiently,” Lutz said, “and creating jobs and making sure we can put it out there at a price that people can really afford and feel good about supporting.”


Related:
Urban farming invigorates Detroit neighborhood


Related:
Urban farm planned for shuttered Kettering High School

Cockrel offered a measured opinion of how important urban farming will become for the city.

“Will urban agriculture be the end-all and be-all that saves Detroit? Certainly not,” Cockrel said. “Obviously Detroit has got to have a variety of tools in its toolbox. But I think urban agriculture can be one of them.”

Carmody agreed.

“We’ve got to figure out some models that make economic sense, and it’s going to take some time,” he said. “So I say the sooner we get to the experiments and get stuff in the ground, the better off we are to establishing those models that can work.”

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