Yes, it really is important as one of the founders of Victory Gardens, I believe growing food in the city makes sense. Simply, the foundation and premise of our business is to convince people to do JUST THIS and to help them do it. Lucky for us, most folks here in Vancouver (and many other places) feel that growing food in the city is a no-brainer and fully drink the #growwhatyoueat organic, non-gmo and local Kool-aid (with a shot of wheat grass).
Simply: Growing food in the city means more food in the city. With increasing demands on global food supply, an expanding industrial (and totally broken) food-system, shrinking ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) due to urban sprawl and development and a SERIOUS demand for “good” (organic, local, sustainable) food, using marginalized urban land for growing is a viable way to create resilient cities. Bringing food into the city works for the environment, the community and the economy!
We all know that our food system does not work: It’s decentralized and it’s destructive. As cities grow and sprawl we consume viable growing space and push our food out, resulting in dinner that has more frequent flier miles than the monarch migration. With an ever-changing climate, considering alternatives to food from halfway around the world makes sense to reduce our CO2 footprint while consuming regionally. It’s also important to consider the disastrous impacts of monoculture: Depleting and eroding soil, perpetuating the use of GMO crops and pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and massively decreasing natural biodiversity. Small-scale urban agriculture has the opportunity to utilize holistic and sustainable methods for production while growing intensively (7 Ways Organic Farms Outperform Conventional Farms)! Consider a city where every rooftop was used for production, how our reliance on unsustainable farming practices would shift.
Growing food in the city is so awesome for the community and this 1 pager pretty much sums up why (but what the heck, here are a few more feel good reads on awesome community food initiatives from Huffington Post and NY Times). The only note I’d add, which is not really covered directly is: Growing food is kind of like activism. You are gently and beautifully saying: “I’m cool, I’d rather eat my own radish, thanks.“ As in, you believe in using space differently AND growing your own food system by putting food where it wasn’t before AND putting food where your mouth is (HA!). Leading by example, growing your own garden is a physical action based “like” on your friends post, it nudges action and encourages others to follow. Gardening is infectious, and once people peep your kale growing in the middle of winter while they’re spending $3/bunch on theirs, they’re going to want a piece of that!
Finally, if you’re a business growing food in the city, you are ruling at being a part of generating a truly resilient local and urban economy, which quite literally, nourishes the people who live in the places where it’s happening! We’re so lucky at Victory Gardens, to have folks seeking out employment opps with us all the time and with other amazing urban agriculture social ventures like: SOLEfood, Fresh Roots and Inner City Farms, it’s no wonder young people are inspired to do something which has meaning WHILE meeting the triple bottom line criteria which is so attractive to generations seeking change! Of course there’s also the added benefit of circulating money locally AND being a part of the new green economy where money is made doing good work.
Ultimately, growing in the city is about rethinking how our current systems are serving us and finding vehicles to DO the change needed for a sustainable future! Growing in the city is fun, it’s a little political and it’s delicious!