Saturday, October 23, 2010


It was only a couple of years ago there were exciting developments in some of the most congested cities like New York where the terrace gardening was practiced with official encouragement from city fathers, basically for generating local produce for local consumption. Many corporate industrial bodies provided support to this phenomenon both as a social experiment as well as for the well being of their employees. The urge to involve in agriculture spread to suburban settlements with the residents taking part in week end gardening in vacant places nearby. While the experience of hands on involvement in the logistics of cultivation can be very stimulating, the sustainability of the zeal for such extra-routine activities was always doubtful. These days one does not hear too much about such gardening activities though it may till be taking place in some areas with dedicated people committed to self-reliance. Now comes the news regarding further development of the concept of urban gardening based on vacant sites near regular dwelling houses taken up as a community program in several cities across the US. If such trend continues, city authorities may have to re-think about the present zoning systems to accommodate farming urge of their citizens. .

"It's an unusual place for a farm — an industrial stretch in the 1700 block of Powerline Road also home to construction material retailers and wholesalers, auto repair businesses, and even an exotic dance club. Appropriately named The Urban Farmer, Jessica Padron will participate in a community agriculture program, offer workshops for children and adults and have a farm stand for the extras. "If I won't feed it to my daughter, I won't sell it to you," Padron said. Padron's is one of dozens of farms sprouting in urban settings and inner cities across South Florida. There's Earth N' Us and Roots in the City in Miami; Marando Farms in Fort Lauderdale; and the Girls U-Pick Strawberry Farm in Delray Beach. There are also smaller community gardens taking root behind backyard fences, church gardens and abandoned lots. As cabbage and chickens move closer to office buildings and neighborhoods, municipalities across the country are trying to figure out how and where to fit the urban farm. "It is true that city politicians are not used to dealing with this sort of thing," said Alfonso Morales, assistant professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Wisconsin. "[But] in some places they're not [only] used to it but they seek it aggressively. They all have different models for trying to establish community agriculture." The trend is slowly catching on here. In West Palm Beach, a group of residents is working with the city to create an urban farm ordinance. In Delray Beach and Fort Lauderdale, residents are asking city officials to allow backyard chickens".

It is unthinkable as to how costly land in urban areas can be used for agriculture unless one is dealing with inner city areas where there is a drastic drop in land prices. As long as there is unwanted vacant land available in cities, such novel projects can be considered and the returns in terms of social awareness and enhanced appreciation of farmer activities can be appreciable. Of course in a country like the US, where agricultural practices are highly standardized and cultivation packages re readily available such outlandish ideas have a better chance to succeed whereas in India it is impractical to think about them.

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