Urban Farming: Growing Communities by Growing Food

gardening.jpg When you hear the words “Cabrini Green,” most likely you conjure an image of a public housing development on Chicago's North Side, plagued by gang violence and terrible living conditions for what, at its height, were 20,000 residents. Surely you don’t think of “Cabrini Green” and “farm” ever being used in the same sentence. Well, think again.

Thanks to the incredible vision and fortitude of Will Allen, his daughter, Erika, and the good folks at Growing Power, and in partnership with the good folks at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, there really is green at Cabrini—in the form of abundant fresh vegetables. This community garden project on Chicago Avenue is located in the neighborhood adjacent to the Cabrini Green row houses. The Garden is a traditional community garden with free plots allocated to individual gardeners. But, of course, it’s much more than a garden. In these urban agricultural ventures, as Will Allen likes to say, “We’re not just growing food, we're growing communities," complete with curriculums for new gardeners and the kids of the neighborhoods where these “farms” are started. (The Cabrini farm is built on top of concrete, by the way.)

The idea is to bring together people and the environment in which they live by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food. As Wendell Berry states, “There is another way to live and think: it’s called agrarianism. It is not so much a philosophy as a practice, an attitude, a loyalty and a passion—all based in close connection with the land. It results in a sound local economy in which producers and consumers are neighbors and in which nature herself becomes the standard for work and production.”

Here are some links to related efforts :

Caroline Heine

Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 05, 2007 in Economic Development | Permalink | Comment