Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why Urban Farming Is The Most Important Initiative of Our Lives

Why Urban Farming is the Most Important Initiative of Our Lives

Nuta Beqsu Amen-Ra

Everybody Eats! So the simple act of planting food can shape issues like economics, health, and politics at the same time. Food is essential to life. Food is the focal point of human activity all over the planet. As the Urban Farming movement grows, so grows a positive future for our children and the ecology of the planet. Amen Ankh Urban Farm (AAUF) is our name- Amen means sacred- Ankh means life. We move in the approach of reconnecting with nature, spirituality and showing accountability to the Earth environment, and revolutionary social transformation.

While most houses on my street have “lawns” with Grass, wild growth, or cut “weeds” in their yards, our front yard and vacant lot, are sprouting, Sage, Mint, Wild garlic and onions, Dandelions, Plantain, Clover, Peppers, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Cabbage, Chicory, strawberries, and more. Agricultural Scientist and Master Gardener, George Washington Carver said: “A weed is just a plant that has been misplaced.” At AAUF, We forage the plants that are already growing In the spring to harvest natural healing essence of the season… In our lot, we plant and grow thousands of pounds of food per year on a plot of land the size of a basketball court. We grow and preserve enough fruits and vegetables to feed my family and neighbors year-round. Our house and land is part of a growing global movement of people involved in urban farming.

Joanna Grace Pepper Farmer (right) Adenike Amen-Ra (Left) at Amen Par Ankh and Urban Farm

Growing food is a revolutionary act of rebellion in these times of food compromises.

AAUF is a community teaching resource rooted in re-connection to nature, Stewardship, conservation, sustainability, and education. AAUF’s workshops strengthen communities by strengthening the relationship between plants and people and will inspire people of various backgrounds to agree to peacefully live in right relationship to nature– living as stewards to the insects, animals, plants, Forests, land, water and air they live “with”, rediscovering the value of various traditional ways of communicating with the useful plants that surround us, and support for the re-awakening of our harmonious interconnectedness

At Amen Ankh Urban Farms, we work in reconnecting and preserving original knowledge of our Aku (ancestors) specifically relating to the relationships of plants and hue-mans. Our teaching farm will serve as a space for rediscovery of our relationships with community centered educational programs. This organization focuses on the importance of preserving the ethno-botanical and cultural wisdom taught by elders, ethno-botanists, community leaders Mentors, youth and children. Classes for adults and students of all ages include after school programs, summer wilderness adventures, weekend seminars and retreats. The curriculum includes local native plant identification, conservation, Environmental Responsibility, organic growing, seed collecting, making teas and medicinal herbal products, wilderness survival, mystery school studies, Rite of Passage, and many others. The Green Griot Gathering at Amen Par Ankh is designed to artistically express, grow and adapt to the community base it service as a vehicle to connect with schools, Churches, and other community forums We work along with EMWOT- (East Meets West of Troost) to build sustainability in the most desolate areas of the 64128 Zip-code that are not support by city green zone initiatives. We have Artist to activist and Adenike’s Art reduce reuse recycle as a cultural-Cultivation for our youth to engage in STEAM (science technology engineering arts medicine) education through agriculture and green craft initiatives. Here are ways that Urban Agriculture will transform our world

Revived local economies. Local neighbor-to-neighbor commerce, bartering or home cottage industry generally does not happen in our communities anymore. Although there are many successful home based businesses that have created a boom in the economy, like Apple Computers, and Marion Laboratories, and may network marketing constructs, Residential areas almost never include edible common spaces or gardens, where community exchanges might happen. The law discourages community autonomy, economy, and commerce, and even giving away free foods. Instead most cities want to encourage you to purchase from the supermarket chain.

In my own city, the local statues that permit urban farming will reinvigorated local commerce, Yet many official do not see the vision and are allowing the residential inspectors to rack up charges and fine on property owners to discourage this development with the expectation of promoting gentrification. So, Instead of buying tomatoes, I can now plant a seed and grow and sell food or trade cucumbers for tomatoes from my neighbor. If urban farming continued to grow, it would cause a massive and positive economic disruption by introducing local Food production that would compete with the corporate mainstream on price, quality, convenience, and level of service.

Earth Stewardship. Industrial agriculture is a major source of air, land and ground water pollution due to the use of petroleum based chemicals. Petro-chemicals are used to fertilize, spray, and preserve food. Gasoline is used to transport food worldwide. Plastics and Styrofoam are made from oil and are used to package the food, Petro –chemicals also effect pricing by foods outsourced to foreign processing and preparation sites then shipped back to the US to be warehoused. Urban farming disconnects us from fossil fuels by minimizing the transport footprint through local growing and using organic pesticides and cultivation methods.

While industrial agriculture often maneuvers to avoid paying for environmental pollution, urban farmers have to bear the ecological costs of their actions directly. This makes urban farmers better stewards of their land because they draw their nutrition from it. Rather than using inorganic chemicals that destroy soil biology, urban farming culture stresses sustainable organic techniques that enrich the topsoil.

Connecting to local politics. Urban farming makes it easier for people to be involved in local politics because it brings home the issues that directly affect neighborhoods, like health and wellness, Youth Education and Crime to the foreground. Local regulations become far more relevant to the day-to-day life of a person attempting to cultivate their own food. The growth of urban farming has resulted in legal pushes, like the California Cottage Food Act, which will allow people to legally sell certain homemade goods like jams and breads. Other neighborhood issues such as raising goats, chickens, beekeeping for pollinating plants and the production of honey, or fluoride and the chlorination of water are in the sights of urban farmers and environmentalists.

A Revolution for Nutrition Awareness of the negative health effects of GMO food from the industrialized food market is a big reason why urban farmers grow their own food. When you feed your produce to your family, you’re less likely use poisons. Local food is the freshest and has the best flavor, and nutrient retention, because it goes through less transportation, preserving and processing. As the urban farming movement grows, it will mean more access to nutritious local foods and more time spent doing exercise and physical work of growing and cultivation. This could result in more intellectual capacity in our youth, more energy and vitality, Lower Crime, less obesity, less chronic disease, and decreased healthcare spending.

Blossoming of re-community exchange. Urban farming is a lifestyle inherently centered on community. Growing food is, after all, a cooperative effort. In my own community, I see that the knowledge of how and what to grow is exchanged, seeds are swapped, labor is shared, and the harvest is traded. Home cottage industry grows, as urban farming grows, a stronger interdependence within communities are likely to result as local food systems bring more community interaction into people’s daily lives. Mega Corporations had largely killed small-town ways of live, that were essential for the re-circulation of wealth, by destroying small businesses, Mom and Pop stores, and driving Black and small farmers off of their land. Now, successful Cooperatives, microloans, seed capital systems and bartering and exchange is growing.

The Influences of Urban Agriculture is significant because food is a central necessity that affects everything and everybody at once and more people live in cities than rural areas. Seeds of change are already being planted in our children, like my students across the world. These seeds will grow and blossom, where the need to demand more local food will be essential, so that the market for local urban- organically grown produce will expand. We also need to put pressure on the City, County, State legal systems to allow easier local trade and more local food production.

Imagine if we grew food everywhere there is grass. Even looking at alternatives like Aquaponics, Vertical and Rooftop Farming, and Airoponics. Every community is a local food economy of small home cottage industries, waiting to come to life. The answer to climate change, the health crisis, and the recession economy is right outside your door. I’ll meet you at the Farm!