My little Chicago Urban Farm
This morning's Tribune had a story about zoning laws the city is considering to regulate urban farming which has made many in the industry nervous. I think we all need to acquaint ourselves with the zoning board and let them know how important urban agriculture has been in addressing social inequities in our city, not to mention the nutritious food for those living in "food deserts" with no grocery stores nearby, and employment of the homeless and former prisoners.
Granted Chicago has been more progressive than some cities, having passed the "Chicago : Eat Local, Live Healthy Plan in an effort to make food production and distribution of locally grown healthy food available, accessible and affordable. Illinois imports about 90% of its food and recognizing the rising economic and environmental cost of shipping food, the state passed a Food, Farm and Jobs Act a few years ago to support the formation of an Illinois-based food system.
I realize that laws governing the growing of food are intended to protect the consumer but I'm hoping that red tape will not impede our urban farmers. The value of their work in creating green spaces that reduce crime , improve air quality and provides jobs and food , must be recognized by our legislators.
Chicago has several organizations working for urban agriculture . GROWING POWER, started by Will Allen, the son of a sharecropper and now recognized as among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy, promotes the belief that all people, regardless of economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious food at all times. He has transformed communities with his programs. GROWING HOME founded by Farmer Les Brown has emerged as one of the leading urban agricultural organizations in Chicago as well, providing job training and supply high-end restaurants and the City Green Market with fresh produce.
The Advocates for Urban Agriculture ( AUA ) is a loose network of local organizations and individuals and were instrumental in having their goals adopted in the "Chicago : Eat Local, Live Healthy " program. We need to encourage and support the great work done by the above and aforementioned entities.
As a farmers daughter and a gardening ethusiast I strongly advocate a garden in every community and I for one plan to make my opinion known to the powers that be.