The City of Seattle has declared 2010 “The Year of Urban Agriculture” and launched a year-long series of public events yesterday, starting with a day of activities with one of the gurus of urban ag, Will Allen of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Growing Power.
Allen, whom the NY Times described as a “farmer of Bunyanesque proportions,” is a man with his hands deep in the soil, a gentle giant and 2008 MacArthur Genius Award winner who has come into a national leadership role in the movement for food justice.
Our partners at Lettuce Link posted this report of his Seattle visit on their blog, Will Allen at Marra Farm, by Michelle Bates-Benetua, Lettuce Link Program Manager:
The Lettuce Link crew and a few long-time volunteers got to show off our Giving Garden at Marra Farm yesterday to Will Allen! Will is founder of Growing Power, recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award and a long-admired hero of mine. There are so few real-life heroes in this world that I don’t take that word lightly. He has shown the world a model of urban agriculture that feeds people, engages the community, creates jobs and transforms the lives of children and youth.
The Seattle Channel followed him throughout the day and I’m curious how they documented the day. But most of all, I am ready to put his suggestions into place and am excited to see how his visit really gets our city and region focused on healthy, local food for ALL of us! Thank you to Eddie Hill from Creatives4Community for putting the event together. – Michelle Bates-Benetua, Lettuce Link Program Manager
The City’s year of Urban Ag programming includes half a dozen additional events between now and late October. You can read all about them on their new Urban Ag website. The next event is a Food Bank/Giving Garden Summit on April 7, coordinated by Lettuce Link.
Local food activists and sustainable communities folks (Hi SCALLOPS!) have been organizing and promoting urban ag and food justice projects for some time. And in April of 2008, under the leadership of Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin, the city adopted Resolution 31019, the Local Food Action Initiative, “outlining a series of actions developed to promote local and regional food sustainability and security. The goals of the Local Food Action Initiative include improving the local food system through advancing the City of Seattle’s interrelated goals of race and social justice, environmental sustainability, economic development, and emergency preparedness” (according to the City’s website).
So there is a strong foundation on which The Year of Urban Agriculture is being built. Hopefully the increased awareness and community organizing will result in increased resources being made available throughout our communities to address food justice issues. Solid Ground’s Hunger Action Center has been intimately involved in this work for a long time and continues to promote innovative ways to increase food justice, such as the new Community Farm at Rainier Vista that we are developing in conjunction with a slew of partners. We’ll continue to report on these issues here. In the meantime, what are YOUR ideas for how to promote food justice?