After the economic fall of 2007 many cities have seen large numbers of people leave in hopes of discovering better futures. Those who remain in large cities are forced to find new ways to live and deal with the abandoned property found all around them. The residents of Detroit have chosen to do so with the creation of urban farming. Rather than let the vacant lot across the street fill up with weeds, trash, and field mice, Detroit residents have turned to gardening. These new urban farms provide food and jobs to the local community while creating an environment of creativity and cooperation.
The goal of creating a community garden is to provide fresh, healthy produce to the people of the community. However, in order to implement one of these gardens in the local communities there are a few steps which must be taken. The American Community Garden Association (2012) provided a simple order of tasks for starting a successful urban farm. The first of these steps must be to have a meeting of interested parties. Find out who is interested, develop community support, and create a planning committee to make any decisions. The committee then needs to make a list of all of the resources at their disposal and the resources still required. Examples of these types of resources include experienced gardeners, tools, seed, funding for upkeep, and many more (ACGA 2012).
The next step is to find funding and to secure a location for the garden to be in. Funding can come from membership dues of the people involved, or a community sponsor such as a church, local government, interested businesses, or parks and recreation department (ACGA 2012). This location must be large enough to produce decent yield which can occasionally be difficult to find in a large city. Once the location is found the people involved must fundraise enough to purchase the or get permissions to use the building in question. This plan focus on creating a garden in the local sports center, to be used by young people in an effort to not only feed the community, but to encourage cooperation amongst local youth. In some cases the city, or the owner of the land will donate the space which helps tremendously. Once the community center is secured the area will need to be prepped for gardening. It needs to be cleaned and organized into smaller plots for each type of crop or person involved. After this the garden is ready to be planted, maintained, and to become a part of the community.
The challenges likely to be encountered along the way primarily consist of funding and legal concerns. Often community support for a garden is easy to find, but developing funding for a project can be difficult. Member dues are an option that eliminates reliance on the charity of organizations, but can also reduce community involvement in the garden. In addition there is the worry of legal issues. For example gardens in Los Angeles have had past issues with property taxes. These taxes, for a very low funded urban farm, can be debilitating. Luckily there is precedent for local governments to provide tax breaks to local urban farms (Alfonso 2014). Mirna Alfonso (2014) says the cities want to “increase the amount of healthy fruits and vegetables available within our food deserts as well as reduce eyesores created by vacant, often times blighted lots,” explaining the reasoning behind the tax breaks. Other legal issues stem from the slow adaptation time many cities have when dealing with a sudden increase in the number of urban farms within city limits (PBS 2011). A video documentary from PBS (2011) described these as questions about pesticide use near schools, fertilizer runoff, and land use issues. All of these issues must be solved on a city to city basis.
Urban farms are a great way to increase the health of a as well as community involvement. There are a few legal and funding challenges along the way but once set up, these gardens provide life to the community. Adding an urban farm to the local community center will encourage youth to be a part of the community and provide fresh healthy produce to the entire community.
- Alfonso, M. (2014, November 5). County to Consider Reducing Property Taxes For Urban Farming Leases. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- PBS. (2011, August 19). Seeds of progress: How urban farming is changing Detroit’s future. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- 10 Steps to Starting a Community Garden – American Community Garden Association. (2012, January 1). Retrieved November 8, 2014.