The Green T will transform a vacant commercial corridor in Detroit by growing, harvesting, and processing a plant—Pennycress—into biofuel.

Photo © LAND Inc, Jackie Bejma

The Mack Avenue Green T is a project managed by LAND, Inc. that uses pennycress to transform a blighted section of Mack Avenue into a permanent passive green space.

Pennycress is a non-edible crop that produces a number of small seeds that can be harvested and crushed to yield oil. The oil can then be refined into biodiesel. Biodiesel can be used as an alternative fuel for diesel engines, or as an additive to reduce vehicle emissions. It is safe, biodegradable, and produces fewer air pollutants than petroleum-based diesel.

Photo © Jackie Bejma, LAND Inc.

Photo © Jackie Bejma, LAND Inc.

Photo © Jackie Bejma, LAND Inc.

Pennycress is a cold-weather crop, so it can grow during Michigan’s cold winters and rotated with other crops that can be grown over the summer months. In addition, pennycress is an ideal crop for the Green T because it is low-growing (so sightlines are maintained along the corridor, ensuring safety and overall appearance of maintenance); Pennycress is non-invasive; and pennycress remediates, or removes certain toxins, from the soil.

The revenue generated from selling the biofuel will be applied towards maintenance and other corridor improvements. LAND, Inc. plans to grow cut flowers during the summer months to increase revenue from the project. Metro Ag, a Michigan-based company, will harvest the pennycress and convert it into biofuel.

The first phase of this project will be developed in a one-block area of Mack Avenue between Lakeview and Coplin streets, but the goal is to plant approximately 350 acres with pennycress over the next few years.

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