The Importance of Urban Farming

Bossy Hen Homestead Fall 2015 
 "Urban farming is not only possible, it is crucial. But it can't be like the farming techniques of yore." ~Homaro Cantu~

I am not attempting to be dramatic by claiming that the majority of the worlds ills have to do with poverty. Whether they be financial, spiritual or ethical. I also believe that I would not be overstating a solution to these difficulties if I said that one very important step in the right direction would be empowering people with the ability to control a portion of their own food supply. 

There are some very basic requirements for survival. Food , arguably, being the most important. It is easy to forget this in the American fast food culture. Healthy, delicious food is radically important. It is a foundation of survival. It brings family together. It honors guest. There is a reason we "break bread" with those we care about. 

We added hens in 2014
I grew up in a single parent household. We ate to consume. To fill our bellies. Food was not prepared with the intent of love behind it. Meals were not a place where the family gathered and spoke of their day and talked about their dreams for the future. In hindsight, I realize that my mother was brought up that way. I ate that way for most of my adult life until I met and married my wife. At that point meals took on a whole new meaning. 

They were/are vibrant and full of life. I soon realized that food is art in the most intense manner of the word. The taste, the smells, the presentation are not restricted to the overpriced menus of the rich. They are completely obtainable by anyone willing to plant a seed and nurture it. Growing food is one of the most empowering things you will ever do on a regular basis. I promise. 

Main Garden @ Bossy Hen Homestead 
It is difficult at times to explain let alone convince someone who has not immersed themselves in the pleasure of self-sufficiency as to what it is they are truly missing out on. Food that has been grown or raised by your own hand comes alive in your kitchen. It paints the room with aroma and fills your tongue with a language all its own. It nourishes your very soul. 

One need not own immense amounts of land. They do not need to live alone among a sea of corn or wheat. The truth is that very little space is needed to produce a reasonable amount of your own diet if you are simply willing to be creative and work within the limitations of your property. 

Start small. Grow a kitchen garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers and some herbs for your favorite tomato sauce. Gain confidence in your ability. Allow the spark within to grow. The next year expand your plot and add another raised bed or two. Try to grow something new. Go to the library read about gardening, cooking and preserving. Maybe you begin exploring small urban livestock like chickens. 

The point I am attempting to make is this; the solution is all around us. If you own a small urban yard grow food not lawn! Share with and inspire your neighbors. If you do not have property consider organizing a community garden, contact your local agriculture cooperative that is what they are there for. If you are too shy for that grow a container garden, guerrilla garden, garden at your parents or grandparents house. Small mom and pop organic farms are always looking for help, volunteer in exchange for some amazing crops. If all of this is simply not something you can do for one reason or another, though I bet you could if you really tried, shop at local farmers markets and buy what is in season you will be amazed at what you can bring to the table! Honey, maple syrup, greens, eggs, fruit and the list goes on. Don't allow silly, outdated regulations to stop you. Go to council meetings and get them to change the laws. If they don't then consider doing it anyway. The idea it is "illegal" to grow or raise food is terribly absurd and deserves to be rebelled against. 
Grow in your front yard too!

I realize the worlds problems are much larger than one solution. But hunger and poverty are at the root of a lot of them if you take a moment to think about it. Food is one area we do have control over. Take full advantage of it. Grow! Grow! Grow!   

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here


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