EATING (AND GROWING) LOCAL. I've got a piece up today over at In These Times on the rise of community urban agriculture programs. Agriculture and community gardens have a long history in urban areas, but a new generation of urban agriculture programs is focused on using agriculture to address food access and urban blight, and in the process, offering an new approach to food politics. Erika Allen, of Chicago's Growing Power put it this way:
"We’re using food to make social connections. It’s not just about growing food -- it’s about practices and how people form relationships, get comfortable with each other and learn to communicate through really owning the food system.”
In 1996 a coalition of food advocacy groups lobbied to put funding for urban agriculture programs in the farm bill, and while the version passed the House in July increased that funding, it was also changed from mandatory to discretionary. It remains to be seen what will happen to the bill in the Senate.