Urban Farms Support Local Foods and Build Community

July 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm 1 comment

In light of the recent concern over access to healthy foods and the environmental impacts of trucking food long distances from farms to markets, there is some hopeful news coming out of Durham on the growth of urban farms. The Winston-Salem Journal reports today on urban farmers who are turning their basements, backyards, and vacant lots in their neighborhoods into small farms. Not only are they providing local produce for restaurants and community supported agriculture (CSA), they are also having a positive impact on local communities.

Perhaps the most urban of the urban farmers is Keith Shaljian, who helps run Bountiful Backyards, a worker-owned cooperative that specializes in edible landscapes – putting food crops in parks, backyard gardens and community gardens.

Their latest project is a half-acre vacant lot on a stretch of Angier Avenue known for drug dealers and street walkers. Shaljian used kickstarter – a crowd-funding website for creative projects – to raise the money to buy the lot. He’s employing kids from the neighborhood to get the farm going.

Urban farming can help get more people involved and interested in the food that they eat, in producing it, and in transforming their neighborhoods. 14.5 percent of households in the U.S. food insecure. Residents in urban areas face particular barriers when it comes to accessing fresh produce and healthy foods. But as Think Progress reports:

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.”

Urban farmers, like those in Durham, should be an important part of a broader strategy for expanding access to nutritious local foods, particularly to those communities that face more severe barriers and health risks. Not only would this improve the health of residents, involving community members can help create a sense of ownership and strengthen neighborhoods. As one of the young people involved in the Bountiful Backyards project said, “The more I come, the more I learn. This is an opportunity to learn and better myself.”

Entry filed under: Agriculture Policy, Healthy Foods. Tags: , .

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1 Comment

  • 1. Urban Farming On The Rise In Durham  |  July 20, 2012 at 12:56 am

    […] footprint by bringing the source of food closer to the consumer. Today, we are going to visit The Support Center for a look at the role the urban farm is playing in the support of local food production and […]


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