What’s Growing On!
It is my belief that a healthy community is one that meets the basic needs of all residents. It ensures quality and substainability of the environment, provides adequate levels of economic and social development while assuring social relationships that are respected and supported.
Over the past two years we have witnessed the rise in community empowerment through Urban Agriculture as we see well over twenty-seven cities around the country implementing Urban Ag Ordinances that include zoning codes that will establish a new food economy for local growers. Some even include TIZ tax incentive zones. This is for the purpose of allowing landowners to receive tax credits from the city that will incentivize both landowner and urban farmer.
I am proud to be a board member of the Louisiana Association of Cooperatives under the direction of Mr. Harvey Reed, who is our furious leader in this food revolution. We produce the only newsletter in America that is distributed through the USDA. LAC is the leading advocate for all farmers in the nation, we focus on urban agripreneurs and veterans.
Presently, 80% of all suitable land for growing crops the traditional way is already in use or taken out of production due to drought in California and other states. We live in an era of transformation which has enabled conscious people to grow nutritious food for themselves and their families. This food may also be sold for profit.
There are many communities across the nation that are grappling with food security and access, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, at a time when these same communities are struggling with obesity and diabetes and other diet related illnesses. Over the past twoyears, I have personally visited 26 urban farms from Hawaii to the civil rights trail in Montgomery, Alabama. Some use traditional methods of growing organic food on rooftops backyards, parking lots, hoop houses, greenhouses, vacant lots in cities and shipping containers, while others use no soil. One of my favorite destinations and most interesting urban farms was in Houston, Texas, the Last Organic Outpost, with veteran Joe Icet. This farm is located in the heart of the 5th ward and processes well over 20 tons of organic waste weekly. An aquaponics DWC system is also on display along with vermaculture, the farm is heavily connected to the city and local land grant university. This community has been transformed into a virtual showcase of what is possible in food deserts when urban ag is developed and supported by the community as a whole.
EcoBro also visited Olomana Gardens located on the North Coast of Hawaii with Glenn and Liz Martinez, who own over 17 acres in the rain forest. Glenn is one of the nations leading experts in aquaculture. You will see and touch nature at its best while listening to Glenn’s passion for growing fish and plants in this majestic garden.
Con10u2farm was awarded a contract to design and build Adaptive Growing Modules for nine schools with the Sacramento County Health Department. Our objective is to train the next generation of veggielanties how to grow specialty crops, how to measure PH in the water, EC, plant tissue, renewable energy and worm farming for profit. Early results have been very positive from all locations and the students have successfully harvested their first crops.
Seniors are the most ardent GROWERS in America, regardless of age or language spoken, tomatoes and squash bring them together. It is becoming one of the best ways to create and build community farms for all, while keeping our senior population active and consuming nutritious foods. Growing speciality crops is a healthy choice that addresses health and wellness and strikes the heart of the pandemic sweeping our nation.
According to Darryl Cotton, President of Inda-Gro in San Diego, urban farming is critical to any city’s future. As a nation but to a greater degree, in our inner cities, part of our health related issues can be directly attributed to quality of the food we eat. If all the food we have access to is packaged and processed, the incidence of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and many other terminal illnesses, will continue to climb. Without access to healthy locally grown vegetables, our children’s cognitive learning sills will suffer and grades will continue to drop. 151 farming techniques is a concept and practice born out by the increasing acceptance of medical cannabis within our communities. As such, 151 Farmers commit to urban farming, at a minimum, one pound of cannabis for five pounds of food for the community.
Part of your next meal should come from, no less than ten feet from the kitchen table!
The future of urban ag in the would will depend on internet enabled applications to ignite the food revolution. Food production can be retooled to accommodate high-density urban living while maintaining food security. Like many 21st centruy farmers we see a networked agricultural system that looks to the open-sourced software movement for inspiration. Personal food computers is an idea to standardize agricultural technology platforms for personal, small scale and large scale use. What’s more, growing conditions suitable to a particular crop that are developed inside tabletop sized food computers can then be scaled up to the shipping container size food servers, or even food data centers, which may occupy part of the warehouse, factor or other larger facilities.
Ron Kelly of Kelly Farm was awarded the Tom Haller award this past spring by the California Small Farmers Conference. Ron has been a leader in urban ag for many years. In 2015 he was appointed by President Obama to serve as chair of the California State FSA committee. Ron states, “perhaps the greatest movement in my lifetime is growing food in small spaces for the purpose of feeding and emerging exploding population.” The more that urban agriculture is seen in positive terms by local government officials, lending agencies, and the general public, the greater likelihood of more urban farms.
According to Paula Daniel’s report, ‘know your fish farm’, we need to develop a strong local fish policy. The United States is the third largest consumer of seafood products (behind China and Japan) yet we import products. The second largest trade deficit is seafood products, second only to petroleum. “We are ‘fish dependent’ in the way we are petroleum dependent.”. We can develop policies to encourage urban agriculture by modifying zoning and streamline processes to permit aquaponics farming in cities.
Lastly. we need to develop a national program that encourages our Veterans to becoming farmers after returning home from the war. It is imperative that the newly appointed Veteran Farm Czar elevate sections of the new farm bill so to enhance opportunities and participation for a sustainable farming career.
Grow for What you Know!