There is a lot going on in the area of food production, both on a national level and at the local level. More and more of us are beginning to think about the quality of the food that we put into our bodies and what we can do to improve it. Still others are looking for a way to grow our own food, a very difficult task in our urban environment.
I wrote about some of the obstacles in urban agriculture nearly 2 ½ years ago and questioned why some of our improperly developed subdivision properties could not be reclaimed for agriculture as they have done in Detroit. I heard many explanations about farming practices, both conventional and organic, not being a good fit for parcels where the buildings have been removed to prevent continued flooding. Still, it is allowed on non-flood prone parcels not 400 feet away, along with the residential laws which get treated regularly during the year.
I think that it is such a reasonable idea that, despite being rejected by many, I still support it. At today's lunch I was told that discussions are underway to develop a policy for location of community garden in Lexington's green spaces.
The Lexington Greenspace Commission is undertaking an inventory of existing (and past) community gardens with an eye toward other community facilities may have available land. Schools, churches and group residential which do not use all of their parcels are looked at for potential use.
But what about the smaller lot residential areas which are some distance from large scale shopping centers, transit lines and the above referenced facilities? These are areas which were developed as “starter homes” that residents just could not get out of due a) the recession, b) leveling/declining wages or c) the rising cost of living. This is the realm of the suburban poor. Where is their community garden space?
Following a few inquiries, I did find someone who is a little closer to the Greenspace folks than I. Their position is that the policy recommendation being discussed is to not allow the government owned land to be used for community gardens at all. In essence, land that formerly had a productive use, was re-purposed to house families, though without adequate safety, will now be “retired” to aesthetic use when it can be adaptively reused for a community garden.
I guess the good news is that this is just a recommended policy for the use of Lexington's green space and may, at the administration's discretion, be followed or amended. It may also come under the watchful eyes of the forthcoming Local Food Policy Coordinator position being tested during the next year. I do hope that they will fare as well as the Bike/Ped Coordinator slot has over the past several years.
I like where the local food movement is heading and see some exciting things on the horizon (hemp production being one of them) and hope to live to see them all.