It will be up to Debbie Stabenow and her colleagues in Congress to design smart programs, so a small amount of seed money yields a large crop of urban-ag successes.
By Urban C Lehner
The Progressive Farmer
(Must see. Mike)
Deciding whether urban-agriculture legislation makes sense requires pondering two questions. The first and most fundamental: Does urban agriculture make sense?
It’s tempting to say the jury is still out. Urban agriculture is an infant industry — industries, really, for there are many urban-agricultural models. There are restaurants growing their own fruits and vegetables on their rooftops and community groups growing them on vacant lots. There’s Ed Horton’s vertical farm on an eighth of an acre inside an Irvine, California, office building. There’s A.G. and Matt Kawamura’s 40 parcels, 1,000 acres total, dotting the southern Los Angeles suburbs.
For urban agriculture to make sense does not require that cities grow enough food to feed themselves. That will never happen. But they need to grow enough to make a difference — and provide jobs and environmental benefits, as well. That will require some of the models to demonstrate sustainable business success.
Time will tell, but enough of the models look promising that there’s reason to hope this will happen. The odds will improve if government provides some strategic support for urban farming is in its infancy.
Which raises the second question: What, if anything, can the government sensibly do to promote urban agricultural success? What kind of support will prove “strategic?”