Food, farming and spring dreams

1700 onion sets and 40 pounds of blue potatoes — such is the stuff that springtime dreams are made of! My brother, Kenny Turck, has these promises of growth and food and hard work ready to go. Kenny’s farming/gardening is done on the home place, as part of the Dirt Group therapy for kids and adolescents.

Michael Chaney and Project Sweetie Pie farm in the inner city of Minneapolis. Youth Farm has kids out in mini-farm projects around the Twin Cities. Dirt Group, Project Sweetie Pie and Youth Farm are all part of a growing (pun intended) movement to reconnect young people with the earth, helping them to “flourish physically, socially, and emotionally as they mature into young adults.”

They are also part of the larger urban farming movement, which traces its roots to Milwaukee and Will Allen’s Growing Power, now 20 years strong. Growing Power’s web page summarizes its simple, but wildly ambitious goal: “to grow food, to grow minds, and to grow community.” Elaborating on this goal:

“Growing Power transforms communities by supporting people from diverse backgrounds and the environments in which they live through the development of Community Food Systems.  These systems provide high-quality, safe, healthy, affordable food for all residents in the community. Growing Power develops Community Food Centers, as a key component of Community Food Systems, through training, active demonstration, outreach, and technical assistance.

“Will Allen, our Chief Executive Officer believes, ‘If people can grow safe, healthy, affordable food, if they have access to land and clean water, this is transformative on every level in a community.  I believe we cannot have healthy communities without a healthy food system.'”

Urban farming and food gardening has plots of vegetables springing up all over urban areas. In the Twin Cities, extensive information and technical support is available through Gardening Matters.

Mega-farming and industrial food production tell one story of the national (and international) food system. This story has to do with better living through chemistry, efficiencies of scale, and vertical integration. As Tom Philpott writes in Mother Jones, it’s also a story of how big ag screws farmers and small towns.

Different stories of food and farming come from community gardens and urban farms, from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms selling directly to consumers via annual subscriptions, and from farmers’ markets in urban and rural areas. These stories are still largely under the radar. Stories are powerful, though, and if you’d like to hear, read and spread these stories, here are some places to start:

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