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Can Urban Farming End Urban Hunger?

Updated on October 9, 2014

From the News

The other day I was watching an online documentary about Detroit, Michigan. Sad, sad, and more sad. The population of Detroit has dropped by over 60% since 1950, and if ever there was a poster child for much of what ails the United States economy, Detroit would be that poster child.

With the drop in population there is a corresponding drop in taxes, of course, and since taxes pay for the upkeep of a city’s infrastructure, it does not take a genius to understand what is happening in that city.

One of the saddest things I have seen in a very long time was the bulldozing of entire neighborhoods in Detroit. Where once there was vibrancy, where once there were citizens living happy lives, now there is only rubble.

City government, of course, is looking for solutions, but solutions of this magnitude take time. One does not change the entire culture of a major city overnight, so I suspect that hard times will be a constant neighbor for Detroit residents for a few more years. One of the solutions that city government is looking at is urban agriculture. A current project being tried is called Hantz Woodlands, a 140-acre site where 15,000 maple and oak tree seedlings have been planted, making it the largest urban tree farm in the United States.

And that, of course, inspired this article.

Community garden in Olympia
Community garden in Olympia | Source

Seattle Leads the Way

Seattle, Washington, is about to introduce the nation’s largest forageable space, seven acres within the city limits called the Beacon Food Forest. When completed, this urban forest will include plum, apple, and walnut trees, as well as berry bushes, herbs and vegetables. The forest will include a teaching space, conventional community gardening plots, a barbecue area, and recreational areas, and they believe it will start producing food next year. Their stated goal is to recreate a forest ecosystem with food-bearing varieties for the citizens of Seattle.

On the other end of the spectrum, in 2012, the United States government spent about $80 billion annually on fifteen programs, mostly administrated by the Food and Nutrition Service, which delivers food assistance to one in every four Americans.

Eighty billion dollars.

One in four Americans.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Land donated by a church for a community garden
Land donated by a church for a community garden | Source

Bandaids for Cancer

Let me tell you my problem with public assistance, and in particular the current food programs across the country: they solve absolutely nothing other than to keep people alive. There is no long-range goal, and they certainly do not address the problems that are causing hunger. They are reactionary in nature and not proactive.

If the United States, and for that matter any other industrialized nation, is going to end hunger and homelessness, then proactive solutions must be found. People need to work. People need to provide for themselves, and people need to live in sheltered areas and not on park benches.

That is why the idea of urban agriculture is so viable, especially if utilized on a large scale. Of course there would be initial costs to a city in setting up such a program. There would be land to clear and cultivate. There would be initial costs in purchasing seeds and seedlings, fertilizer and other farming implements. But once the initial cost is absorbed, the cost would be minimal from then on, and it would certainly be considerably less than continually running programs that do nothing else but keep people from starving to death.

And in creating these urban farming centers, people would be put to work, which also will alleviate some of the problems and help to push the economy in an upwards direction instead of a freefall plummet.

How Can This Happen?

We are left with this question: if this is so logical, and so doable, then why don’t more cities implement an urban farming program?

The simple answer to that question is this: change requires willingness to change. A community that embraces this urban farming philosophy will make the necessary zoning changes, and allocate funds, to make it happen. But community leaders will not act unless they are led in that direction, and that requires citizens to unite and demand change.

I live in one such community, Olympia, Washington, population 45,000, and Olympia is completely committed to the practice of urban farming. Here you will find edible parks. Here you will find neighborhood community gardens. Here you will find zoning that allows vegetable gardens in the front yards, and here you will find farmer’s markets practically in every neighborhood. A farming infrastructure has been established, and the citizens of Olympia are enthusiastic about making it work. Buildings have been torn down and vegetable gardens have replaced those buildings. A whole subculture has been established featuring organic foods and farming.

And all it took was a willingness of city leaders to make it happen.

Governments working with citizens can find solutions
Governments working with citizens can find solutions | Source

There Will Be Opposition

As surely as I’m sitting here writing this, I know there will be opposition. For one, people tend to resist drastic change. Many would rather detour around urban blight than admit that it is there.

There are huge agribusinesses that will resist and, dare I say, vocally oppose changes like this, for we are talking about an economic revolution, taking profits and power away from corporations and returning the profits and power to individual communities. Yes, there will be resistance.

But isn’t this battle worth it?

How many of you reading this live in a major city? Have you seen the decay I’m talking about? I know you have, and I would venture to guess that decay has been there for decades, because urban decay began in the 70’s and has only worsened for the last forty years.

I have seen the decay in Los Angeles. I have seen it in Chicago and Portland, Cleveland and Washington D.C., and I know you have seen it as well. I would submit to you this statement: the programs that have been used in the past are not working. Ignoring the problem will not work. Public assistance is not a solution.

The only rational and logical solution is to try something new, and urban farming is a proven solution.

So Get Involved

Last week I began a part-time job. Now let me explain this to you. I am sixty-five years old, and I’ve worked for fifty years. This is clearly an odd thing for me to do, because I don’t need to work. My freelance writing business keeps me quite busy, often working fifty hours each week to improve my writing craft.

So why am I starting a part-time job?

I’m going to be a retail worker and management consultant for our local urban farming and garden center.

This business opened up six months ago, and I desperately want this business to be successful. If they can make it, then it will be one more positive step for this community as it moves ahead with the urban farming long-ranged civic plan.

So I’m going to get involved. I’m going to work fifteen hours each week, at minimum wage, and see if I can’t do my part for a cause I believe in.

I was raised to believe that if change is going to happen, then I have to be willing to be the instrument of that change.

Are you willing?

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you dahoglund. I hope we see the day when this becomes the norm rather than the exception.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is a city that was proud of its natural features. It is called the "city of lakes." It had Elm lined streets and other features. Dutch Elm disease did a lot of damage to the trees because of "environmental" concerns it lost one of its most valuable asset, or at least had a set back. There is no reason that cities couldn't be environmentally attractive again. Best wishes that your project will meet with success.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, thanks Deb. I love urban farming, and I'm working towards getting some acreage...and then, watch out!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      That's exactly what it takes: to believe in the power of change. Some people do it every day. The masses finally emerge, then we all reap the benefits. I salute you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dianna! It seems like such a simple solution, and yet evidently it is quite complicated or it would have been done by now. :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      Can you imagine the decreased illness if we had more community urban farms? I admire how you take on a cause and dedicate yourself to executing its programs in the community.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, it seems like such a simple and logical answer...so why isn't it being done widespread? We need to pull our heads out and become radical in our approach to social problems.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Larry, you can prattle on all you like. You are right about the social programs. I would never think to suggest we end them all....they are necessary for millions. You stated it perfectly. A work force that is actually working....providing for itself....local business owners who invest in the local economy...corporations who are no longer allowed to dictate political policies...these things must happen, or we will continue to flounder.

      Bravo...excellent comment.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      The title of this hub alone, says it all! Our nearby City of Kingston has been involved in urban agriculture for a number of years with revised zoning codes, and support of local food production.

      Obviously the growth in urban poverty necessitates some kind of action and as you have said, this is the best way. Food production should certainly be the way to alleviate the lack of food for local people. Sharing skills and land can only be a win-win situation.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very thought provoking article.

      Any long term plan that will take control from the few and give it to the many I'm on board with. The corporations will fight this tooth and nail of course. They'll spend billions of dollars to think tanks and campaigns that will try to make the growing of plants and trees seem evil.

      Early in the article you mentioned that solutions to problems like what is happening in Detroit don't happen overnight, and you're right. But the destruction of these cities did happen over night. Why? Because the only source of employment, vehicle manufacture, decided to leave.

      The point is that when business is locally owned as much as possible, it offers stability. Any perceived stability when the world is ran by a handful of corporations is a complete illusion.

      The one thing I might elaborate on a bit from your articles. You mention that aid as far as handouts is like a band aid for cancer. I don't disagree with that. It's not sustainable as things are, but we can't do away with those programs just yet, either.

      My feeling is that while we continue to instill long term plans like urban farming and bring power back to the people the need for short term aid is reduced, but never goes away completely because there will always be at least some need for it.

      What people just can't seem to get through their skulls is that if we have a safe, sustainable economy this short term aid they complain about so much becomes easily sustainable. If most people are working and able to make a living wage, the only cost is for the victims of tragedy and the infirm.

      Sorry I've prattled on so long, but it's evidence of a wonderful article that I feel the need too. As always, great job.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you vkwok. I always need luck.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Theresa. There is no doubt that many need food stamps, but then what? Food stamps until death? Makes no sense to me. :)

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for sharing Bill. I wish you all the luck in the world in your endeavors.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      This opportunity and you were so made for each other. I know you will help bring about important and beneficial changes. I realize some people may truly need food stamps, but as you say it is nothing more than a never ending stop-gap --- nothing ever actually improves. Hooray for Olumpi and Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Barbara Kay, it's odd that some communities embrace this and some ignore it. I don't understand it at all, but all I can do is keep shouting from the mountaintops and hope someone listens. Thank you for sharing that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, you and me both. We need the power to return to the people, and it is doable, but the people need to believe in the cause. I think it is happening, but these changes take decades to happen. :) Thank you dear lady.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, I believe this change will only happen locally, but you add enough locals together and you have regional, and then you add regions together and you have.....a huge change. :) Thanks my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vellur, if I believe in something then I can find the time for it....but thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Faith, I encourage you to encourage him. :) I think this is something that is very, very important, and will become more so in the years to come.

      Have a great Sunday my friend, and thank you.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

      The second town down the highway from us started a community garden. We drove by it and I was curious. Disappointment in it is the only way I can describes my feelings. It was so tiny that only one or two people could be working at it.

      Most of the area is rural here, but I thought with all the condos there, more people would be interested. I don't know what the problem is. I'm happy to see it is working for you in Olympia.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Billy. I agree with Detroit being the poster child of what ails this country. Often, people don’t understand the dominos that fall when hard times hit, and the meaning of time as part of any solution. I wasn’t aware of Detroit’s Hantz Woodlands and Seattle’s Beacon Food Forest.

      The figures you stated on the food assistance to one in every four Americans is staggering…and frightening. Some nations with dire poverty have adopted programs that are geared to being proactive – not reactive. It’s about time we bite that same bullet, and accept the fact that change is both inevitable and necessary. It’s all about ideas and involvement – corporations be dammed. I am so weary of them standing in the way of real progress, with their eagle eyes glued to their bottom lines. (Their interference with protection of the environment is another example.)

      Kudos on your new part-time endeavor with your local urban farming and garden center...this is so worthwhile, and they are lucky to have you! ! You set an example for us all.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I pessimistically believe that if there is no real money in it or some great bureaucracy that our leaders will not support it in any major way. So it has to be very local and very charitable to get going.

      Optimistically it is becoming a normal activity and as that grows so shall the farms.

      I did not farm 5 years ago and now I do and swap food with neighbors. If I can change the world can change.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      You are really committed to your cause and it must be taxing for you to take on more work. Great work and all the very best.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Dear Bill,

      Oh, how wonderful about your part-time job to make a difference! Our county is full of peach orchards and farms, and we have plenty of farmers markets around these parts, so we are truly blessed. Of course, we are not short on land, so that helps.

      I do so love all trees, but it makes much sense to plant a tree that helps to provide food. My husband has been wanting to plant some fruit trees, and I need to start encouraging and helping him do just that very thing.

      Blessings always

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, thank you, and that is the whole point....we need to try something. I'm encouraged, but change like takes decades, and I hope we have that long to wait.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      rap, I believe what you said is true...people will make the difference. I still have faith in the common man.

      Thank you for that positive remark.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hendrika, that makes me sad, but I'm sure what you say is true. Around the world, we all share common problems, and it is about time we take new approaches to those problems.

      Thank you for sharing that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, DDE!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      mythbuster, it is my belief that we are rapidly approaching that time when urban gardens are a necessity. I hope I'm wrong but I don't believe I am.

      Thank you for the visit and your thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      justthmessenger, ideals for sure. Now, how do we make it a reality? Good to hear from someone who has seen it firsthand. Thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Good for you, working for minimum wage for a cause you believe in. I think Detroit is not a lost cause. It can make a comeback it people want it bad enough and have a plan. Detroit doesn't have the weather that you do in Seattle, but perhaps the crops should be adjusted. They need to try something.

    • rap profile image

      Ruth Perkins 2 years ago from New England

      What an inspiration for positive/wholesome change. Little by little, step by step, when all is said and done it's people who will make the positive difference.

      Such a well written article to follow. Thanks!

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 2 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      Great Hub. I'm from South Africa, there are some private people trying it, mostly gardens in schools etc. Here the problem is not that the farmers and corporations will complain as farming is going just one way here and that is downhill. The land restitution policy is taking farms, give them to hundreds of people that cannot make a living on it and so what used to be a farm delivering food security is gone.

      If you want to see a sad story, just take a drive through any city and see the people begging at the street corners.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Well achieved and so thoughtful of you.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 2 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Great hub, billybuc- including some decent calls to action in this article! I think you've explained in great detail how others can get involved in making urban living more practical, how growing food is so important, and you offer ways of solving food scarcity problems and overcoming urban decay issues. I think community gardens are going to be a necessity in urban North America, period, so I hope a lot of people read this article and jump to action in their own neighbourhoods!

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 2 years ago from The Great Midwest

      Detroit is not just a food desert it's a prosperity desert. I was there last back in 2009 and noticed that even areas like Lafayette Park seemed run down as compared to how it was in the 1980s and for that matter just a few years earlier. The clearing of land for farming could help reduce its large number of vacant houses. Good topic and good ideals.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Jackie, and yes, I think this is important for this country. We need to find some answers, and what we are doing, and have done, isn't working.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I know your heart is really in this Bill and it will have to do wonders for your soul. Congratulations! They couldn't get a better teacher. ^+

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pawpaw. if they won't move to the farm country of Kansas, then we need to bring the farm country of Kansas to them. :) Thanks for your thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, only a fool would go against your recommendations, and daddy didn't raise a fool. :) I'm listening, gal!

      bill

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 2 years ago from Kansas

      There are so many upsides, and not many downsides. We keep wanting to do things the same way, even when it doesn't work anymore. And cities such as Detroit have tons of available and idle land.

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      I'm telling you this before you buy your land and have your community garden, right up front. If you name it anything other than,

      "Frugal Farms" I will be horribly upset. If you need any more euphemisms, I'm your gal! :-)

      DJ.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Iris, these are complicated problems during complicated times, and they call for new, forward-thinking ideas. Quite obviously, the status quo is not working. I'll re-visit this from time to time and let you know how it is progressing. Thank you for being here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Indeed, Clive, that's exactly what this family of mine is doing....pretty cheap grocery bills. :) Thanks for stopping by.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      This is awesome. Hunger and poverty are mufti-faceted problems. We must apply multiple solutions. This idea covers several facets. What appeals to me most about these types of projects is that they foster a sense of community. Community is good for the body, the mind and the whatever-you-wanna-call-it (the spirit). I can't wait to see how this experiment plays out. :)

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 2 years ago from Nibiru

      Eat what you grow and grow what you eat.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ann! Change takes time. That is a truth that will never disappear. It's too bad your local churches won't donate land...that seems to be where most of the community garden land comes from in our area. The city donated one lot, but the other gardens are all on church property.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      ecogranny, it saddens me to hear about the vandalism and lack of governmental follow-up in San Francisco. As for Olympia, oddly, there is no one thing to point at. There are police on bicycles who make regular tours of the garden areas, but mostly there are citizens who handle the supervision....and we really don't have a gang problem of any magnitude to worry about. I suspect, and this is just my hunch, if we were a bigger city we would have those problems, but we only have 50,000 citizens. With size comes increased social problems I'm afraid.

      Thank you for your kind words...I am touched by that description of me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear that, Deb. Keep up the great work.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, truer words were never spoken..very short supply I'm afraid.

      Thank you my friend. I'll be by to visit your new chapter soon.

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      Ann Hinds 2 years ago from So Cal

      Our quilt guild started a community garden several years ago. Unfortunately, the owner of the property decided we needed to pay more for the land and we couldn't support it. Our community is poor, most of us are below poverty level. We are an agricultural community and are looking again for space. It would solve so many problems as our food banks are on the verge of going under as well. I have a small garden but limited space. I love the thought of all of us working together to grow our own food. We have not given up but there are so many people who just won't or can't buy into the concept. Great article.

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      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      Billy, I live in a fairly large city, San Francisco, and we do have some active urban gardens--not nearly enough I understand. A few of them are doing a wonderful job of educating people about growing, harvesting and producing food, as well as providing fresh food to people who might never see a head of lettuce otherwise.

      We also have a very few community gardens where one can get on a list for a plot to grow a few bits. I've been on that waiting list more than ten years now with not a whisper. Sadly, two of those gardens have shut down and do not reply to inquiries on their listserve, not even to offers to volunteer to help get them going again.

      A few years back, our city grew a food garden on a small plot of land at Civic Center. No matter when I visited, no one was allowed in the garden. No one could just drop in and work, or take a tour, or pick a few vegetables. Eventually, as I understand it, the city harvested the food and donated it to local food charities. As far as I know, no one has talked about this idea again.

      We do have intense vandal problems in all our gardens. It seems gangs and people living on the margins would rather tear out public offerings of food and beauty than permit them to be shared. What few urban gardens exist are surrounded by tall chain link fences and razor wire for a reason.

      I would be interested in learning how the city of Olympia manages such issues and how they are successful in overcoming vandalism and encouraging all their citizens to contribute/volunteer/enjoy the harvest.

      Thank you for what you are doing to be part of the solution, Billy. You are an Ordinary Hero, in my book.

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      Deborah Neyens 2 years ago from Iowa

      Bill, I've written about both of them for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, one in my column and one as a feature in the Community section. I am planning to do a blog post about them (and some others) in the near future if I ever find a few spares moments among a new puppy to train, dying cat to care for, papers to grade, and tomatoes to can!

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Where there is a will, there is a way. But someone has to care, and do something. Leadership is is short supply, these days, it seems.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love it, Deb. Seems to me you have the makings of an article for your column. I hope you write that one.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love it, Vicki. Now we have to spread the word so more and more people find the logic in doing as we do...because as sure as I'm sitting here, the time will come when many will be forced to adopt these practices or starve.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rhonda, I didn't misunderstand your meaning at all, and I have the same concerns. Once government steps in then trouble begins to brew. Conspiracies? I've never been much of a believer in them, but I'm beginning to think the major corporations have an ulterior motive in play...not only to sell their products, but make us dependent on them so we will never return to self-sufficiency...and government backs this thinking by allowing outrageous campaign contributions to buy their votes.

      Anyway, thank you for your thoughts, which I happen to believe are right on.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzette, a cheeseburger sounds pretty darned good right now. :) You are right of course: this concept is centuries old, but with the Industrial Revolution and subsequent technological advancements, we saw it die an almost natural death. It appears, however, that the patient didn't die, and it is making a comeback, and I think it's exciting. Thank you for your reflections....enjoy that cheeseburger. :)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 2 years ago from Iowa

      Best of luck in your new job, Bill. I think it's great you are doing it. I have met so many people doing great things with urban farming here in Iowa - one guy who bought an old school house in the middle of his town and converted the grounds into an urban farm and the classrooms into an indoor growing operation for winter, a woman who founded a non-profit that partners with local corporations, churches, and other organizations to plant gardens on their green space and donate the produce to food banks, etc., etc. It's good to hear what's going on in your neck of the woods.

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      Vickiw 2 years ago

      Bill, I saw that documentary too, and it is really sad. Just this morning someone there sold his home for an iPhone 6! He just couldn't live there any more!

      As you know I am a serious gardener, and love being in this place with a mild climate and scores of like minded people. Over the weekend there will be a seed saving workshop. There is always something agricultural on the go, and I love it!

      Great article!

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      Rhonda Lytle 2 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      I love the idea of urban agriculture. I despise the idea of any form of government having any hand in it at all from zoning to permits or any other area. Wearing my conspiracy hat for a moment, the idea is strikingly similar to the one found in Agenda 21 where humans are to be concentrated in large urban centers growing their food surrounded by large corridors given back to nature. Again, sounds good, mostly because it leaves out that choice is further limited and the noose around human necks becomes a little tighter. Please don't misunderstand my meaning. I do want these urban gardens to be successful. I just don't want them to be touchable, regulated by or infringed upon by governments in any way. I'm in the boons so I have the space for gardening, not so much the strength to always do the tilling :). When in the city, I found it takes very little soil to grow things and even had carrots growing in a pot. I think as food shortages worsen these community plots will become more prevalent and folks will quickly come to depend on them. Folks need total control over them or it's real easy to see a time in which they will be but another tool of control. There's no faster subjugating tool than that of hunger.

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      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Bill, it is the people on the west coast that begin this progressive ideas and show us how for the rest of the nation. Kudos to all of you. Surprisingly, this idea of community gardens and urban land being set aside for farming is beginning to catch on here in the Midwest states. More and more communities are starting these gardens. The Europeans have done this for ages. Both sets of my grandparents have huge veggie gardens and my father had a smaller one but we always had fresh grown tomatoes, peppers,onions and lettuce and my mom did the herb and spice garden. So much money can be saved and it is so healthy too. I am writing this as I sit here eating a cheeseburger no less. Shame on me. Perhaps one day I will become a vegan!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It would be nice indeed, Sally, but at least you have allotments there...even that would be a step in the right direction here.

      Thank you and have a wonderful afternoon.

      bill

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you breakfastpop. All I know for certain is that what we are doing now is not working.

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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Congrats on your new job Billy.

      We have allotments here which individuals can rent for a very nominal yearly sum, it would be nice if the land were better managed by a group of people in order to put food into the bellies of those who need it in the community.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia. We can only hope.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jen, stories like that one give me great hope. I know this can be done, but I also know changes like this take a very long time...so we go at it one small step at a time, and before we know it, an avalanche of change has happened.

      Thank you my friend.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes it could, Bill, and I think it is going to eventually. Thanks for your thoughts.

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      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      You have viable fabulous ideas that could solve the hunger issue, put people back to work and foster a healthier population. I admire your commitment, enthusiasm and energy. Bravo! Voted up, useful, interesting, beautiful and awesome.

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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This article is useful, interesting and important, Bill. Good luck with your new job. I'm sure you'll encourage many people to take up urban farming.

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      Jennifer Arnett 2 years ago from California

      This article give me so much hope. I commend your willingness to sacrifice your time for a brilliant cause. What a wonderful blessing you are to the community.

      I recently came across an article about Detroit and was shocked at just how decrepit the city is. It doesn't look like America. A young man decided to make Detroit his home and begin rebuilding the city, one house at a time. It is one of the best pieces of writing I have ever read.

      http://www.buzzfeed.com/drewphilp/why-i-bought-a-h...

      According to this article (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/01/19/us/b... each taxpayer pays $259 to the food stamps program. Think of all of the gardens we could build for that. Heck, for that amount of money, families could start their own gardens and feed themselves.

      I love it when people take matters into their own hands. Power back to the people--there's nothing more American than that. Well done, my friend.

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      Bill 2 years ago from western pennsylvania

      What a fantastic idea. It could make a big change in things.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, it seems to me that this was quite commonplace in western Europe one hundred years ago. Amazing how quickly we lose our bearings, isn't it? Some of the old ideas will work today if we only open our eyes and become willing...and I think willingness will come out of desperation sooner rather than later.

      Thank you as always...foggy here today....love it.

      bill

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, that is great news....really. Now, if people support it, it will grow, but that is a huge first step. Thanks for sharing that.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you colorfulone....yes to urban farming for sure. Change will happen but it probably will take years to see this commonplace.

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      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Good for you, bill! I admire and applaud you for taking part in what you believe is good for the community. Actions speak much louder than words and you are a great example.

      It seems to me there is more urban community farming in the US than there is in Britain, though someone might correct me on that. Certainly there are allotments and some farming projects but I haven't heard of anything on the scale you describe. It would be so good if the council in every town and city had the courage to do this. It's not complicated is it? Just requires a bit of thinking, organising and funding, but as you say I can hear the opposition already. Ah well.... one can but hope.

      Think the weather's broken now. Can't complain when it's almost halfway through October.

      Enjoy your Thursday, bill.

      Ann

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      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      My town is finally doing something wonderful for the community. Each Tuesday from 5:00 to 8:30 an area in the historic section of my town is opened up to local farmers. It's located right across the street from our only organic food store, which features locally grown produce, raw milk, range-free egg and meats, organic jams, etc.

      I was really glad to see the town do this. The last I heard, they wanted to attract more fast food and chain restaurants to our area. The Farmers Market is a welcome addition to our town. We have a few produce stands in the area, but the foods aren't locally grown and I highly doubt they're organic.

      Finally, my town is doing something for the people and not the corporations.

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      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Great article. I am happy to read that your hometown is going all out to help people help themselves.

      I am concerned about people is large cities who are completely devastated when a natural disaster occurs, and the grocery shelves are quickly depleted. They have no food and no means of their own to survive.

      We have all heard about teaching people how to fish, not just providing fish for them to eat, and they will be able to provide food for themselves.

      Yes, to urban farming!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine. The funny thing is, I don't consider myself amazing. These are things I was raised to do...it just seems normal to me. :) Thank you for your kind words.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, you hit the proverbial nail on the head. This requires forward thinking on the part of governments. I see it in a smattering of communities, and I think the concept has grown, but changes like this one take decades to implement. I hope I live long enough to see it happen on a larger scale.

      As for GMO seeds....that is a huge, stinking cauldron and yes, I'm up for it. Let me get my nose plugs. :)

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      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Aww, Bill I have so much faith in you and do believe you are already making a difference and then some. Cannot wait to hear more though and you are amazing, my friend! Have a wonderful day today, as always ;)

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      MizBejabbers 2 years ago

      Congratulations on your new job. I know you will do your part to make the endeavor a success.

      “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

      Yes, but there is going to have to be complete changes in attitude among city governments. For instance, our own city allows and even encourages community gardens on vacant land, however, ordinances prevent the raising of chickens and any animal not considered a family pet, including potbelly pigs.

      I love the idea of the useful trees. Again, our city only knows Bradford pears and Japanese maples, which are boring and of no practical use. I say plant trees that grow real edible fruit like real pears and apples.

      There is a project similar to what you describe that is run by a local church and its reverend. This man has gotten awards and grants for his “practical” work in his community, and I hope the city learns from him. I think the answer to your question “why don’t more cities implement an urban farming program is because they are too shortsighted. You are fortunate to live in a community that encourages urban farming.

      I think another problem that may arise is GMO seeds and seedlings, but that is a subject for a whole ‘nother hub. Are you up to it, my farmer friend?

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, honestly, I've never been to Detroit, but it breaks my heart to see a major city that once led the world in manufacturing go through this hard period....and all that is being done is to increase public assistance. How can our leaders be so short-sighted. Find a solution and quit pouring billions into temporary placebos! My goodness, this isn't brain surgery.

      We need you and I running this country for a year.

      Thanks, buddy.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, most of us took a huge hit when Panda 2 rolled through town. :) I'm starting to see increased earnings again after a three month drought....so, your dip is pretty normal for right now.

      Anyway, it is nice to see you. Have a great Thursday.

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      Old Poolman 2 years ago

      Bill, in this single piece of writing you touched on a few of many of the things that cause me heartburn.

      Many of our current entitlement programs do nothing but sustain life below the poverty level, and hold people down. To try to improve their lot in life means giving up the assistance programs they currently receive to sustain life. I believe this to be just a measure of control by government agencies. If you feed them you own them. We could do so much more by utilizing programs such as you have in mind and save money in the process.

      We ignore the downfall of cities such as Detroit while we send millions of dollars to countries that hate us, and probably always will. We also know that much of this "foreign aid" money is stolen and rarely helps many of the citizens of those countries. Why not cut off some of this "foreign aid" and spend it on rebuilding some of our own cities?

      I'm wise enough to know that this will never happen with the backing of our government, but it could be started by citizen groups in many locations.

      Great job of writing as usual my friend.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, I don't need the money...in fact, I'm doing her blog for her for free...I just want this movement to succeed. :) Thank you my friend.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kim, I love it....what a great example...huge gardens where everyone works together and shares in the harvest. Imagine if major cities adopted that idea.

      Thank you for sharing that, Kim.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Buildreps....I believe in this movement and I want to see it gain momentum quickly.

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      carol stanley 2 years ago from Arizona

      I admire your attitude as I do all the time. And they are lucky to have you with your enthusiasm and ideas. To realize how simple it is to feed people off the land--that hunger is unnecessary. A note off the subject. I stiil have my Hub acccount and averaged...about .60 to .75 a day and it is down to about 20. Am I write to assume that everyone is noticing a huge drop in payments for writing. Interesting about 20 of my hubs have red arrows and double red arrows.

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      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I knew all along that your reason for taking the job at the urban farming center was not solely to help yourself, but to help others. You are such an inspiration for how to live life.

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      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Bill,

      I will be sharing this on my FB page for I know there are many who support the ideas you present in your article. For others, they may have a difficult time comprehending what it is like to be in an urban setting and for that matter, what it is like to NOT have a garden. You can't drive very far where I live without seeing a garden. This weekend, I will be picking up potatoes for that is how big some of the gardens are they people plant. They do not just plant one garden with nice little rows of vegetables. They plant big gardens that have just one vegetable. Everyone works together to put a garden out and then harvest it. What a wonderful world to see that mindset in urban areas as well.

      Happy Harvesting,

      Kim

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      Buildreps 2 years ago from Europe

      Very inspiring what you're doing, William! I'm impressed how you're picking up this opportunity. You're leading the forefront of a major change. I will be following this story too. Thanks for sharing.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Barbara! I think I see the beginnings of a major social movement.

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      BarbaraCasey 2 years ago

      I'll be following this story as you add hubs.