Video by Chanelle Havey, Michael Katz and Gabrielle Fernando
When I first heard the term “urban agriculture,” I thought that it was a potential answer to the jeopardy question of “What is a oxymoron?” But as I learned more about it, urban agriculture turned out to be an actual thing. It exists. Many of you are probably asking, “What does urban agriculture even mean?” At least that was my first question.
News flash: Farming is no longer solely a rural enterprise. According to a MIT report, 20% of the people that are undernourished live in cities. Due to high housing costs and unemployment, obtaining food becomes a challenge. In order to decrease this statistic, there must be new areas to grow food. After dealing with this problem for years, cities finally had a grand idea - why not try to grow their own food? The city of Seattle was one of the first to explore this concept. Their P-Patch Program was established almost forty years ago. Covering more than forty acres, the produce generated is enough to serve over 2,000 households. This is not just an experiment any more. More and more cities are jumping on the bandwagon of incorporating agriculture into there future plans. An area of land in-between the lower-income Cabrini Green district and the upper-end Gold Coast section in Chicago has been converted into an urban farm that produces over 25,000 pounds of produce.
While I had never heard about urban farming just a few weeks ago, the idea really makes sense to me. Take Detroit for example. Detroit has nearly fifty square miles of vacant land. That is correct- fifty. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one out of every five people that live in Detroit does not have a job. Urban agriculture benefits more than the environment alone- but also provide food to those that need it. Adding these to Detroit would help a struggling city feed its population. All hunger in cities will not be fixed by urban agriculture. Global Warming will not cease to exist if farms crop up in the middle of New York City, New Delhi, Shanghai, and Paris. But it is a meaningful and effective way to increase the quality of life for a great number of people.
One local effort along these lines is led by Jesse Schaffer, the president of the George Washington University's Food Justice Alliance He coordinates seasonal growing right on the GW's urban campus, on the corners of H St. and 23rd St. NW. Just a few blocks away from the State Department, World Bank, and Watergate, not many would think this would be a prime area for urban agriculture. But the Food Justice Alliance proves doubters wrong. By incorporating the Alliance with other enviromentally sound communities in DC - such as the Georgetown Day School - the H St. Garden is able to maximize and meet local needs by producting many vegetables and fruits, such as carrots, beans, okra, tomatoes, thyme, raspberries and chard - all to be donated to the homeless at Miriam's Kitchen. - Michael Katz and Gabrielle Fernando