The simple act of planting a garden can shape issues like economics, health, and politics all at the same time because food is an essential focal point of human activity. Learn urban farming is vital for our community!
Some might ask why the City of Fort Myers would spend limited dollars to support the expansion (two brand new sites along MLK) of Urban Farms when we have serious issues in this county including rising crime rates, high youth unemployment, under-education to name just a few. As it turns out, urban farming helps to resolve many of the problems plaguing the community. With over 80 percent of the American population living in metropolitan centers, urban farming has the ability to dramatically enhance economic growth, increase food quality, and build healthier communities.
Aside from food as fuel, the average person likely thinks of food as medicinal — eat oat bran for fiber, eat fish for omega-3s. But can food make the further jump to being an environmentally sustainable emblem of culture and community?
Yes, said Will Allen, founder of Growing Power Inc., an urban farm in a poor, African-American neighborhood of Milwaukee that spent its first decade or so training young people to cultivate fresh produce.
If the farm got publicity, it was mostly among white people. But when first lady Michelle Obama installed a vegetable garden at the White House and invited Allen there to speak in 2010, "Ten million folks all of a sudden wanted to learn to grow food," Allen said, "especially people of color."
Growing Power is now a nationally known leader in the urban agriculture movement, and Allen was recognized with a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" in 2008.
Let’s look closely at the reason we need more urban farms:
1.Economic Growth The economic benefits realized through urban farming are localized, thus keeping dollars circulating through the community. Urban farms also have a fantastic return on investment, with every $1 invested in a community garden generating $6 worth of vegetables. Any profits can be used to fund scholarship programs and other services to ensure the children in the community gain access to new opportunities.
2.Community Building In 2010, a total of 14.5 percent of households were food insecure, with a further 5.4 percent experiencing “severe” food security. Community health is, as one report describes it, “the social and economic capacity of a community to create an environment that sustains the visions, goals and needs of its residents.” Increased food security is a crucial component to realizing this vision. The social organization required for most urban farming projects can forge stronger community bonds by creating “stakeholder interactions” that give individuals a sense of responsibility and productivity.
3.Food Quality and Health Studies have shown that nutrition, exercise, and mental and physical health are all augmented with urban farms. According to three experts from the Community Food Security Coalition, a small garden can have a major impact on food needs: “In a 130- day temperate growing season, a 10’x10’ meter plot can provide most of a 4-person household’s total yearly vegetable needs, including much of the household’s nutritional requirements for vitamins A, C, and B complex and iron.”
This solves the directly related problems food insecurity and poor nutrition. The act of gardening is also great exercise that improves physical health: reducing risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. The act of cultivation has significant impact on mental health as well — assisting with social skills, self-esteem improvement and stress reduction.