88Nine Radio Milwaukee

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Fighting Foreclosure With Urban Gardens?

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It's a call for innovative ideas from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  And Milwaukee is in the running to win a $5 million prize.

Last year, Milwaukee entered the Bloomberg Mayor's Challenge, a nationwide contest to identify and attack major problems facing cities across the country.  

The plan, HomeGr/Own, seeks to increase property values in neighborhoods suffering from foreclosure by converting vacant lots to urban gardens.  The result would be a sustainable food supply chain.

And the idea is gaining momentum.

Selected as one of the 20 best concepts -- from a pool or more than 300 -- Milwaukee is hammering out the details of its final proposal, which is due at the end of this month.

The city partnered with Walnut Way Conservation Corp, a non-profit which has done standout work attacking foreclosures and building urban gardens in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood.

After attending an idea camp in New York City last November, representatives from the Milwaukee Office of Sustainability, the Department of Administration, and Walnut Way have been collaborating on a final plan.

$5 million in grant money will be awarded to one city, and four others will receive $1 million prizes.  Winners will be announced in April.

For now, however, click the podcast player below to hear an interview with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Walnut Way Co-founder Sharon Adams.

Then, talk back.

Do you think this idea has legs?  Leave a comment below.

For more, visit our recent story by Tarik Moody.