Sunday, August 2, 2009

How NY kept its city from starvation

How do we keep our cities from starvation?

For the first time in history, our culture has changed where more people live in the city than in rural areas. The question arising is, how do we feed a city full of people? Our society has taken food for granted for years that is is a wonder our cities get fed at all. Carolyn Steel states that "We are as dependent on the natural world as our ancient ancestors were."

One example of how a large city can provide fresh produce to thousands of residents was written about in Good Magazine. "New York City has very little land that is not covered with buildings, forcing New Yorkers to find innovative solutions if they want to keep their agricultural production truly local. But while some people grow a few herbs on their fire escapes, Ben Flanner is transforming an entire industrial rooftop into a living garden. Atop a defunct bagel factory in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood—a Polish enclave more known for its pierogies than its organic tomatoes—Flanner dropped 200,000 pounds of dirt on 6,000 square feet of rooftop (by crane), and in so doing brought new life into a mostly concrete neighborhood."

"Built with the help and support of Goode Green, a green roof design and installation firm, found the building and helped Flanner with the logistics. In addition to being a working farm, the farm is also a green roof for the building. It occasionally holds volunteer days where people from the community can help contribute, as well as workshops, led by Novak, on topics like how to bring the lessons of the rooftop farm into individual homes." (Look: Six Thousand Feet of Rooftop Vegetables by Morgan Clendaniel)

With the example of Ben Flanner and the help of Goode Green, it is possible to grow healthy, natural foods in the hardest environments. Even in such a populated city such as New York, the inspiration of one man helped grow thousands of plants and feed many local people. As we think of ways we can get gardens started in our communities, we can ask large companies and individuals to help get the process going. Many people who care about their city and community can take the example of Ben Flanner and apply it to their own life. Writing letters to politicians and getting the community involved with local gardens can help feed not only themselves but those in need living in the food deserts of the cities.

By Tally Gunstone

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