An Idea for Organic Urban Farming
Natural Food Availability in Urban Centers
If you've seen the documentary Save the Farm you will see a story about an urban farming project in South Central Los Angeles, that made use of a large, unused lot, to grow and sell natural foods, which stood for a long time and was, sadly, destroyed by the city, when the lot was sold from under the families that not only grew the food and herbs on the lot, but would sell the foods directly from the ground. Effectively, each of these families were supporting themselves and their main avenue of feeding themselves was ripped from them.
All hope was not lost for these farmers, who had eighty-five acres donated to them 130 miles north of Los Angeles in 2009, so that they could grow their organic food to sell in farmers markets.
An aerial view of the South Central Farm before it was Bulldozed by the City of Los Angeles
The Benefits of Urban Farm Projects
You may be asking what the benefits of an urban farm might be.
To list a few, let's start with the obvious:
Urban farming feeds and supports families. In the South Central Farm, families would use plots to grow, harvest, and sometimes sell the home grown, all natural organic foods. They worked hard to clear a large plot of land donated by the city and made a change for the better.
Aside from the obvious benefits, it has others. The plants grown filter out toxic carbon dioxide that is a massive byproduct of urban sprawl. Yes, there are greenhouse gases released everywhere, but only in cities and deserts can you find greater expanses with so little green growth, meaning less plants to handle the transitioning of CO2 to oxygen. When CO2 and other greenhouse gases are not processed through plants and turned back into oxygen, it poisons our atmosphere and eats away at the ozone layer that protects our global temperature.
Another benefit of urban farming projects is that it teaches the children of the families that contribute to these small farming plots some responsibility. They learn how to grow their own food, they learn about healthy eating practices, basic business principles and practices from selling their produce, and the rewards of working hard. The children of today rarely understand the value of hard work. Our society all but runs on instant gratification, and many children today often have things handed to them. To teach them the responsibility and give them skills that they can apply, not only in farming, but in every day life, would be a gift that would last these children a lifetime. It could also give these children in these large cities something to do besides running the streets and getting into trouble.
Another benefit is the change in availability of healthy, organic foods to people who live in urban centers. In urban locations, the most available foods are fast foods, which are unhealthy at best. The people in these areas are often left with little options as far as fresh fruits and vegetables. Creating these urban farms increases availability of the fresh organic foods that cost far too much for those who cannot afford to purchase organic foods from grocery stores that have the higher retail markup.
A final benefit is that it is aesthetically pleasing. When you drive past an empty lot, you see garbage, dirt and other items cluttering an empty space, but when you drive past a garden full of fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, and spices, you see life, plants that are green and beautiful, not cold, dead and littered with the refuse of a city that does not care.
The Viet Village farming project in New Orleans
Urban Farming is in Use in Several Cities
While urban farming seems like a pipe dream to some people, it is in action in several cities. Places such as New Orleans, which is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, have these small inner city farms. They are making use of these lots that are disused and not selling, and have turned these ugly, empty spaces into something beautiful and sustainable. It is something that we should all care about.
Whether or not global warming is real, which I do believe it is, what is wrong with bettering this world for next generation?
We have to look at our world, our cities, our homes, and our children, and take stock of what we are leaving behind us when we leave this world.
We are certainly not leaving behind the beautiful planet that we were given. The level of social responsibility of our businesses and governments has declined rapidly over the years. Our air quality is damaged in cities, especially ones riddled with factories, by industrial smoke, smog from cars, and thousands of other contributors to poor air quality. So what is the harm in allowing those who wish to, to grow their own food, and to do their part in increasing the good air quality left in these cities?
Air Quality in Cities is Poor at Best
What Do We Leave the Next Generation
When we leave this world, what are we going to hand the children who will inherit this earth from us?
To me, I picture it as a beaten up gift, wrapped in ripped paper and crushed bows. Inside is a broken toy.
That is how I see the next generation receiving this once beautiful planet from us. It will be like receiving something broken beyond repair, the previous owner having given little thought to it's care.
How do we sit here, knowing we can fix the damage, and think nothing of actually repairing what we've done to this world that has given us so much?
A garden is more than the plants that grow within it. It is hope, wrapped in a tiny seed, placed in the ground and nurtured until it sprouts green with new life.
When our children are spearheading the majority of campaigns to fix this planet that the past few generations have damaged, there is something wrong. Children are going out there, they are seeing this world and what we've done to it and our children are telling us to stop. I am thinking that this is a sign that our children have become more responsible than our adults when it come to the responsibility of caring for this gift that is our planet.