I am quite suspicious of media that tries to decree our movement as the answer to a region’s entire set of problems, and as a food activist, I am on record as being uneasy with terms like “urban ag” as I believe in regional ag as the better term to describe entrepreneurial farming in both the urban and rural areas TOGETHER. I mean if a rural farmer came to me and told me to support rural farming, I’d argue for the urban by asking for him or her to consider their regional needs.
And I also like regional ag since it includes existing farmers and appreciates our hinterlands and waterways which we also need to supply food for our beloved cities. I believe in urban farming, let me say that- but as for agriculture, I think we’re best served when we just support family farming and farming as an honorable profession.. Add to that, the power shift that needs to happen to support new farmers should happen today by supporting those existing farmers, some of whom are still stuck deep in in the industrial food system. We can polarize them and point at them as “part of the problem” but it may be better to learn from them and to assist them in gaining knowledge and awareness about why they may want to join us over in the alternative food system.
However, I love these quotes from legendary Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs from the article linked below about Detroit’s agricultural movement:
“The food riots erupting around the world challenge us to rethink our whole approach to food,” she said, but as communities, not as bodies politic. “Today’s hunger crisis is rooted in the industrialized food system which destroys local food production and forces nations like Kenya, which only twenty-five years ago was food self-sufficient, to import 80 percent of its food because its productive land is being used by global corporations to grow flowers and luxury foods for export.” The same thing happened to Detroit, she says, which was once before a food self-sufficient community.
I asked her whether the city government would support large-scale urban agriculture. “City government is irrelevant,” she answered. “Positive change, leaps forward in the evolution of humankind do not start with governments. They start right here in our living rooms and kitchens. We are the leaders we are looking for.”
Detroit: Farming Paradise?
Food Among the Ruins / Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics.