ESLARP East St. Louis Action Research Project
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

LA/UP 341


Tree farming in abandoned residential areas

vacant lot imagevacant lot image

East St. Louis is the perfect place to establish an urban tree farm! Maybe some under-used land in your city too!

East St. Louis is the perfect place to establish an urban tree farm! Maybe some under-used land in your city too!

There is an excess of vacant land in neighborhoods that have lost population in recent years. While some re-development is taking place, the less viable areas for housing adjacent to highways and railroad lines may remain vacant for many years. Although a lot of debris remains, basic soil fertility is high and the climate of the Great American Bottoms may lend itself to agribusiness in the form of truck-cropping or intensive forestry.

An urban tree farm? Bring trees to an urban setting near you. There are plenty of positive reasons to start an urban tree farm. It can be a hobby for a group of community residents. It could be an alternative industry to create opportunities in depressed economies. It might buffer a railway from residential areas. It can be for profit or fun or for individual and social well-being. Heck, some birds might appreciate it, too.

Why East St. Louis? There is lots of vacant land to be rejuvenated. Any use of this land is better than no use. In deciding where to plant a farm, a goal should be in mind. Then you can determine the size of the farm, how much you are willing to spend, and how much risk you want to take. Then see if you can locate a good site for your farm.

Map of the Area

Take a look at our urban tree farms! The first example is a lot we planted in September, 1996, before we did an economic analysis. Future Tree Industry is for the tree farm we might have to plant in order to pay for the first one!

Reference Sources

A survey of on-line and library sources relevant to this topic (this section is still in progress.)

Rejuvenation of Vacant Land(small scale economic evaluation)

Future Tree Industry (large scale economic evaluation)

Two proposals for conversion of abandoned residential land to tree farms. One is a small-scale change and the analysis indicates it will be a challenge to break even. Most of the benefits will need to be in the social and community-building aspect of the development. The large scale proposla does much better in the economic analysis and suggests that the risk of losing money is quite low. More research is needed!

Visual quality evaluation

A visual quality evaluation process is being developed that tries to bring a systematic analysis process to the issues of suburban land.

Neo Treefarm Culture

The history of East St Louis is evident in its natural as well as built features.

Wildlife Habitat Evaluation

An evaluation of the impacts of the proposed change on habitat quality and connectivity.

Land suitability analysis (Practical 9)

Demonstration of the suitability of land parcels in the region for the proposed land use

Executive summary

Document author(s) : Karen Gross, Patlick Heflin, Jason Steffensen, Yong Wook Kim
HTML by : Yong Wook Kim
Last modified: Nov. 4. 1996.


East St. Louis Action Research Project
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