Friday, November 27, 2009

Urban Farming for Empowered Communities (and Sustainable Cities)

by Thor Ritz 


Over the past year, folks here at the Institute have become more and more interested in the practice of urban farming.  We have been particularly keen about it’s role (mostly potential but sometimes actual) in the project of building more sustainable cities.  They can convert dis-used, industrial land into green spaces which could help to improve air quality, control storm water run-off, mitigate the urban heat island effect, etc.

Just as important as these ecological considerations, however, are the social dimensions of urban agriculture.  Many cultivation projects in American cities dedicate their produce to alleviating food insecurity and design their programs for community empowerment (right here in NYC there is Bed-Stuy Farm and East New York Farms).  The video above, courtesy of PopTech, sums up the issues at stake quite nicely and features an icon of this blossoming movement, Will Allen of Growing Power.  For those of us fighting for urban sustainability, these sort of projects represent a crucial opportunity to prioritze the tenet of equity (a concept better expressed as social justice, I think) in the work that we do.

Urban Food Growing in Havana, Cuba