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Detroit Mercy Law’s Urban Agriculture course gives students a new perspective on the city’s legal landscape

Hundreds of lots formerly plagued by abandoned houses and crab grass are now home to chicken coops, flower and vegetable gardens, and large-scale drip irrigation fields blooming with crops of all kinds.

By Amanda Vanover
University of Detroit Mercy
July 10, 2017


To better understand these challenges, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law recently offered an immersion course in urban agriculture. Through a series of guest speakers and site visits, students learned about the legal issues that face urban agricultural entities. Land acquisition, zoning for livestock and produce, insurance and liability for small farmer-retailers, water management, and green development were among the topics covered in the course.

“It is very important that we, as future lawyers and advocates, be able to understand the communities we are helping and what areas of law are important to these community members,” said Emina Alic, a 2L student in Detroit Mercy Law’s evening program. Alic completed the course, which was limited to just six students.

“This course opened up my eyes to the many different areas of law that are out there,” Alic said.

Co-taught by Professor Jacqueline Hand and Adjunct Professor Amanda Gregory, the weeklong summer course addressed pressing needs for a growing industry, not just in Detroit, but in urban areas across the country.

Urban Landscape Class with turkey“One of the real benefits of exploring agricultural law and food law with students is the way it illuminates the overlap between a particular industry with a variety of areas of legal practice, while also bringing a lens of community engagement and awareness,” Gregory said. “Our students have gotten to compare nonprofit law to traditional corporate law and see that the law surrounding urban agriculture encompasses land use, contracts, environmental issues, civil rights, human rights, legal practice ethics, insurance, tax, corporate formation and a veritable grocery list of other topics.”

Read the complete article here.