5 Ways Urban Farming Helps Foster Local Communities

1. Urban Farms foster a sense of place and togetherness.  The South Central Farm provided a place for the community to be together.  It provided a place for families and friends to meet and share a common mission, that of tending to the land and growing their crops.  Although the farmers were predominately from Latin America, everyone was welcome.  I remember Daryl Hannah commenting that she felt more community and togetherness at the South Central Farm than anywhere else in Los Angeles.  One farmer commented, “Here, everything works.  This is paradise.”

2.Urban farms provide a place where parents and grandparents can teach their kids about growing food.  Surprisingly (or not), most kids don’t know that food comes from plants, they think it comes from McDonalds or the grocery store.  Reeducating this generation of children about where food comes from, and teaching them the basics of how to grow it, may be a key to their future survival.   My favorite quote from Save The Farm is from Fred “Red Crow” Westerman, who states, “It is the end of living and the beginning of survival in a sense.  Anything having to do with man’s connection to earth should not be broken.”  Tending to the land, whether a garden or an urban farm, is a basic human right, a basic human need, because reconnecting with nature may be our best chance to provide for our families in the coming years.

3.Urban farms provide a way for people to localize their food source, which helps to increase food security.  The farther food has to travel from it’s place of origin to your dinner table, the more risk there is in it not getting there.  In our current environment, climate change, spikes in oil prices and acts of terrorism are just three of the many things that could disrupt our food source suddenly and without warning.  Having a local sustainable supply of food is now more important than ever.  Localizing the food source can also decrease the price of food for many people.  At the South Central Farm, families cut 1/3 to 2/3’s of their food bill by growing their food at an urban farm.

4.The urban farm becomes an incubator for the localization movement. Community members realize that in localizing their food source, other needs can also be localized.  Some of the adjunct activities might be bee keeping, composting and seed saving, all of which can be turned into local businesses in their own right.  Once the idea of local economy spreads, those with sewing skills might find themselves in demand to make clothing, those with bio-diesel skills might find themselves in demand, and so forth.

5.  Urban farms give us a reason to meet our neighbors.  Getting reacquainted with one’s neighbors is the first step toward stronger communities.   I grew up in suburban St. Louis, and interaction with the neighbors was a daily ritual.  But when I moved to New York City, I found that I didn’t even know my neighbors, even if I lived in the same place for years.  An urban farm gets us out of our living units and forces us to reconnect with the other humans around us, with out the help of electronic devices.  Strong communities are what is needed to weather the storm of social upheaval and civil unrest that seems to be growing by the day.

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Posted on October 6, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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