In Canada, especially urban centers such as Vancouver, there has been an enthusiastic response to urban agriculture. The Vancouver area brimms with newly minted 'urban farmers' and an impressive network of community gardens. Thus, the following book comes as no suprise to this active community of growers.
From the Victoria, Canada Times Colonist a review of The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities, by Peter Ladner. The comprehensive work cover many of the angles of urgan agriculture. For a broad understanding of the interconnectedness of all the aspects of our modern food system, and the potential benefits urban agriculture offers, look no further.
Favorite concept - the "twoblock diet" - fantastic.
Urban Agriculture is not without it's skeptics. And while their critiques may vary, a common concern is the economic viablilty of such enterprises. Without firm economic data to support the push to localize food production it is difficult to rally support from policy makers and the public. Ultimately, if urban argriculture is to be truely affective, and correct many of the negative consequence of the status quo, it must be economically viable.
Michael Shuman, a Stamford trained economist who wrote The Small Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition, and co-authored Community Food Enterprise, has extensively studied the economic impacts of local food production. His work has verified the positive impact localized agriculture has on local and regional economies.
Without this kind of work, great ideas are desitined to dismissal and failure. In the true entreprenurial spirit he has gone on to start Cutting Edge Capital, an Oakland, Calif.-based consulting business which offers financing services to small businesses - such as local farms and distribution networks, and other emerging 'green' businesses.
As new models for local food networks are formed in communites, a range of businesses related to growing, distribution, and sales, spring forth. These entrepreures benefit greatly from documented and established economic baselines, access to capital specific to their needs, and the knowledge that they have the opportunity to be profitable.
|From the D.C. Farm to School Network - http://dcfarmtoschool.org/|
Bringing local food to schools has been a major push for many localities and organizations. Educating the next generation of consumers is a critial part of the cultural shift many are aiming for. As well as the inherent health benefits for the kids, local farmers are seeing economic benefits. In Jordan, Minnesota the farm-to-school program has been a huge success, and has not gone unoticed by the state agencies. Several agencies overseeing agricultural issues, education, and health have come together to implement an aggressive push to formalize the program across the state.
|From City Blossoms - who I met at "Rooting DC" - http://cityblossoms.org/|
The benefits of educating the next generation are far reaching. By ensuring "agricultural literacy" we are ensuring a future of concious, aware consumers, potentially reducing health issues associated with a diet of processed foods, and therefore, costs to society at large. Even now, children participating in these programs are relaying the information they learn to the buyers in the household, priming the current generation of consumers and accelerating a wholsesale cultural shift.
A new generation armed with knowledge and choices are destined to adopot new paragdimes of food production readily. Of all the long-term strategies to make a real difference, little stands up to the power of educating thoes that will inherit the fruits of our labor.