Urban Farming — An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Urban Farming Los AngelesAs “green” as he likes to claim he is, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa missed his chance to lead the growing urban farming movement.

That honor belongs to First Lady Michelle Obama who has gathered groups of students at the White House lawn to plant and care for a vegetable garden — a symbolic step that harkens back to Eleanor Roosevelt planting a Victory Garden on the White House lawn during World War II.

Former California First Lady Maria Shriver followed Mrs. Obama’s lead and joined the urban farming fever by planting a vegetable garden in Capitol Park in Sacramento.

I have to admit I’m not exactly the most environmentally-sensitive guy in the world but I’m learning.

Food12For months, my wife has been talking about digging up the front lawn and planting vegetables. It has something to do with not wasting water on something as pointless as grass, saving money on food and having fresh, healthy organic produce on the dinner table.

I didn’t take it seriously but then I met Tezozomoc, head of the South Central Farmers movement who raised my consciousness.

The 14-acre community farm was bulldozed in 2006 by developer Ralph Horowitz to build a warehouse for clothing maker Forever21, whose executives have donated $1.3 million to the mayor’s various campaigns and fund-raising efforts.

Because of that connection, backers of the South Central Farm hold the mayor responsible for fumbling efforts to buy the land from Horowitz and preserve what was widely seen as a positive asset to the area, bringing people together in a healthy activity and serving as a center for community life.
The warehouse still isn’t built and the fight goes on and Tezozomoc has started a farmers’ cooperative and is growing organic produce for sale.

Then my friend Bob Singer got his own far-out ideas into my head about how we need to return to our agrarian roots to save the planet, how we need to become vegans, how we need to put people to work as owner-farmers in the absence of industry, and rebuild community life.

He introduced me to Duane Thorin and Evelyn Hansen and others who are at the forefront of the trend.

And he worked with Villaraigosa back in December with what seemed like a cockamamie plan to make him the volunteer head of a Commission on Urban Farming. When he didn’t hear back, he sent his letter to the mayor to Rob Kall at Opednews which published it.

“Is the city or the nation prepared for the social dislocation, economic despair and breakdown in law and order that could occur as the crisis worsens? Are there enough police, National Guard or military to keep order when millions of out of work, out of home and out of food?

“You as Mayor can take steps to mitigate the chaos and possible anarchy now before it is too late. One activity that can have the most far-reaching effects in these times of crisis is Victory Farms as put forth by Eleanor Roosevelt during the Great Depression.”

Well, he still hasn’t heard back from Villaraigosa and probably never will–what with the mayor wanting to put up warehouses and factories and skyscrapers on every bit of open space in the city, and wanting the DWP to install solar units on what little is left unpaved under a program that’s supposed to let poor people buy shares.

Now that the First Ladies of the nation and state are aboard the urban farming movement perhaps the mayor’s desire to hang out with them and their friends will get the best of him and he’ll respond to Bob Singer or take the initiative himself.

ronkayecartoonHis support would be nice but unnecessary. Urban farming is taking root because it makes sense. It conserves dwindling water supplies, makes little plots of land productive, reduces food bills, provides healthy produce free of salmonella and chemicals and gets people off the couch and in motion.

Personally, I’m ready to join the movement myself. Anybody got a back hoe to dig up my lawn?

Ron Kaye

Ron Kaye is the former editor of the Los Angeles Daily News where he spent 23 years helping to make the newspaper the voice of the San Fernando Valley and fighting for a city government that serves the people and not special interests. Twice in recent years, Los Angeles Magazine listed Kaye among the city’s most influential people, specifically in the area of politics. Kaye has been variously described in the media as the “accidental anarchist,” “the Patrick Henry of the San Fernando Valley” and a “passionate populist.” He is now committed to carrying on his crusade for a greater Los Angeles as an ordinary citizen.

Republished with permission from Ron Kaye L.A.

 

LA Progressive

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Comments

  1. passerby says

    This is one of the extremely rare times I agree with LA progressive.

    Urban farming is the way to go. Why waste water, fertilizer, and labor on lawns and ornamentals? It’s crazy. Granted you need grass for some purposes (eg, sports field) but a lot of lawns are hardly ever walked on. Time to plow the fallow ground. Also, maybe lighten up on the rules for urban chickens and goats.

    There are old walnuts and olives in housing developments, pomegrantes and carob trees lining the freeways, and other relics of our agrarian past, which are still bearing fruit after decades of neglect. We should get a clue — these are the trees we should be planting.

    As to that ill fated community farm, though — you missed one detail:

    “…..The 14-acre community farm was bulldozed in 2006 by developer Ralph Horowitz to build a warehouse for clothing maker Forever21, whose executives have donated $1.3 million to the mayor’s various campaigns and fund-raising efforts….Because of that connection, backers of the South Central Farm hold the mayor responsible for fumbling efforts to buy the land from Horowitz and preserve what was widely seen as a positive asset to the area, bringing people together in a healthy activity and serving as a center for community life….”

    True but not the whole story. The property owner Horowitz was willing to sell it to the Farm — which had been illegally established on his land without permission — but nobody could come up with sufficient money. Even so, he might have been convinced to donate it or reduce the price… until protestors started picketing, and screaming RACIST and ANTISEMITIC remarks at him. Once that happened, he was determined NEVER to let them have the land — or so he said, when interviewed on the radio.

    Without the “get whitey” attitude, it all could have turned out differently.

  2. Evelyn Hansen says

    I’m glad to see that someone gets it! The city of Glendale doesn’t yet. They do have a community garden, but there are so many green expanses that we pay to overwater & over chemicalize. I have no doubt that both first ladies let the chem sprayers take care of their gardens for them, once the cameras are gone. The city came after me for years for growing veggies. Their rep asked me, “What’s the matter, can’t you afford to go to the grocery store like everyone else?” He charged me, criminally, with using mulch in my yard… twice!!! He watched me spread over 3, 20something ft high side dumps full of tree trimmings before he told me to take it out to bare ground. I have a picture of him next to one of the piles.

    I have a 1/2 acre w/25+ fruit trees & lots of veggies. I am rabidly organic. I also have the unpopular opinion of thinking that those who don’t eat **WELL** raised meat are not eco-friendly. I had to buy a farm in the Midwest to ensure that only eco-friendly & morally/physiologically healthy meat comes into my home/body, or that of my children. I eat pasture raised meat instead of mono-cropped GMO-soy-containing meat substitutes. Pastures are good for the Earth & my cattle are good for the pastures. They also emit far less methane when their raised on grass. We use no petro-chemicals. If we need an herbicide, we use plain ole white vinegar. We use sheep to eat weeds & chickens to eat bugs. It sure would be nice if Glendale would go back to letting us have a few chickens to keep the bugs down, in town & in the garden. Chickens don’t stink or cause health problems if they can free range. But, of course the city could only know about what happens in huge factories & makes their laws accordingly.

    It CAN be done!!! The city just has to open up it’s mind!

  3. RanchWabble says

    I have to agree with your wife. My wife and I love to grow our own herbs and vegetables and we live in the city. We did have a problem however growing in our front yard, so we had to move operations to the back. There is nothing better than fresh organic produce to make you home cooking soar.

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