The sprouting of the urban agriculture movement in Fenway
The Fenway Victory Gardens are the nation’s only remaining, continuously operating WWII Victory Gardens. Located in Boston, Massachusetts. See history of Fenway Gardens here.
“More and more people are coming to the conclusion that while urban agriculture can support a series of cottage industries, it’s less likely to become a major economic driver.”
By Emily Files
December 14, 2012
On a cloudless mid-November day in one of 500 plots in the Fenway Victory Gardens, Mark Slater maneuvered through his Texan curry plant, perfect-for-mojitos mint, horseradish, chive and tomatoes. Slater has been gardening in the park for four years, roughly every other week from March through November.
“I think it’s important, no matter where you live today,” said Slater, a freelance illustrator, ?to not disassociate yourself from the earth.” The Fenway Victory Gardens, set up during World War II, afford many this opportunity, at a plot rent of $30 per year.
While community gardening of this nature is nothing new, recent years have shown a burgeoning interest in urban agriculture. Non-profits are teaching gardening methods to inner-city youth, governments are passing related ordinances, and “locavores” are on the rise. While the movement has its zealous supporters, others question its practicality and supposed merits.
Slater represents many who garden for fun, perhaps bringing the fruits (or vegetables) of their labor home for dinner, but others want to do it for profit. Yet public policy is not on par with them.
“As it stands, many urban agriculture activities are forbidden use in the Boston zoning code because they are not overtly listed in the land use table,” said Marie Mercurio, senior planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). “If the use is not in the land use table, then it’s implicitly forbidden.”