Grow Where You Are: Community Partnerships Support Local Food Production


| 4/22/2015 11:00:00 AM


Tags: urban agriculture, sustainable food, community, school gardens, Georgia, Eugene Cooke,

Grow Where You Are

Effects of Drought on Agriculture

A drought can achieve results that years of protest could never achieve. As California’s water dries up, our whole nation can seize this opportunity to build a new local food system that is equitable and productive. Many committed folks have been organizing against corporate agribusiness and genetically modified organisms for years.

At this time, it seems the global climate forces have aligned with us to initiate a change to a more ecologically sustainable system of food production. As a native of Southern California, it is stunning to witness the environmental devastation that is the result of the expansion of metro Los Angeles and the surrounding counties. The highways, buildings, homes, lawns, swimming pools and golf courses have contributed to insane amounts of waste, toxicity and imbalance.

Still, this massive drainage of water use is only 20 percent of the human usage in California, 80% of the water is wasted in the corporate monocropping of a desert and factory farming to feed folks across the nation. Thirty percent of our country’s produce comes from this one state. Is that wise? The drought and irresponsible water management are putting a stop to this unsustainable corporate lust.

On a national scale, this is our opportunity to develop strategic systems for supporting local and urban growers. Small-scale farmers are struggling in poverty. At the same time, we see a steady increase in local food advocacy nonprofits in various states with some of their executive directors earning $80,000 and more.

Naturally, young people are directing their efforts to working as advocates rather than learning the skills of agroecology or veganic agriculture. Would this trend change if more local growers were becoming landowners and viewed as valuable community entrepreneurs?

Generational wealth in this country has been built on free labor and land ownership. These practices were both foreign and unlawful to the Indigenous stewards of this land. Still, it persists and is accompanied by a storm cloud of racism and financial servitude.  The epidemics of homelessness, vacant properties and lack of fresh food access in underinvested urban communities are connected to issues of land ownership. With access to land comes access to food and wealth. That is the history and the present.


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