Will the introduction of large corporate farms defile the great assets of Urban Agriculture?
Image from Growing in Detroit here
The Maturation of Urban Agriculture
By Marc Couillais
The Where Blog
April 21, 2009
Urban Agriculture is maturing, and like any concerned parent, those of us with a vested interest are worried about the path she will take and the choices she will make in these crucial developmental years. She’s not quite ready to leave home, but she certainly isn’t interested in hanging with the ‘rents all weekend. That corporate bloke has been coming around a lot more lately, whispering sweet nothings in her ear and chumming it up with Dad in the den.
With all this attention, she’s beginning to see that life exists outside of the small community in which she has grown up. The city offers so much opportunity, yet with it comes so much risk, and as for that corporate guy, word on the street is that he’s been into some pretty shady business. Meanwhile, there is a young guy around the block that Urban Ag has become friends with; he’s so sweet, and seems to be well-grounded. Sure, he’s a bit dorky, but we all know he’ll treat her better in the end than the corporate bloke looking for some arm candy and a quick buck.
Now that I’ve lived out my childhood fantasy of writing a mid-90’s teen sitcom, I should clarify that comparison. Urban Agriculture is at a pivotal point in its life. It began as an agency for social change, turning abandoned inner city lots into fruitful gardens which accomplished great things within their communities. Not only did these gardens beautify otherwise decaying neighborhoods, they also began to educate underprivileged residents about proper diet, provided nutritious food where none was to be found, and in some cases initiated job training programs with the local residents to jump start agricultural opportunities. Growing Home in Chicago, and Red Hook Farms in Brooklyn are too shining examples of this idea. Indeed, the social gains far exceeded the monetary gains, but it was only a matter of time before the light was shed on the potential of Urban Agriculture.