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FOREWORD will allen Urban food production has been practiced all over the world for a long time. In the Americas, it goes back hundreds of years. It is in our history. Aquaponics systems were being used in Peru centuries ago. There were the Victory Gardens during World War II, where urban Americans—with the active support and encouragement of the government—started growing food in their backyards and side gardens. During the great African American migration from the South to the North, many migrants planted gardens in their new backyards. They quietly grew their food, ashamed to talk about it because of their history of slavery on plantations and sharecropping during Reconstruction in the South. They were running away from something that was really painful. All these methods of alternative agriculture were used because they were practical. African Americans in the North did not have a lot of disposable income even though their incomes were much higher than they had been in the South as sharecroppers. Victory Gardens were planted because of food rationing during World War II. The Incas in Peru used aquaponics to raise fish and grow high-quality produce in a harsh environment. Only recently have we started to return to some of these alternative agricultural methods. I do not think we will be able to survive in the future without a dramatic change in the way we produce food. There are going to be 3.1 billion new xiv Foreword people on earth in the next forty years, and we cannot even feed our population with good food now. The only way that we are going to be able to survive is to grow food closer to where people live—inside cities where there is a lot of vacant land. For example, the city of Milwaukee has 2,500 vacant lots. With all that vacant land, there is tremendous opportunity to grow food in the city. challenges facing urban agriculture The challenge, however, is not a lack of land. It is that not enough farmers know how to grow food, or they do not have the right tools or compost to be able to plant on vacant land in cities. Land tenure is also a big issue. It does not make sense to spend thousands of dollars on land that you may not be able to stay on very long. Another challenge for urban farming is that the regulation of urban agriculture by cities is changing all the time. Since I started doing this work, I have attended dozens of meetings with policy makers and city officials. This concrete work we have done in educating policy makers to show them that urban agriculture is a viable thing for cities to do has helped us change some of the policies inhibiting urban agriculture. The very existence of my organization, Growing Power, proves that this can be done, and this can be replicated in other cities all over the world. Urban agriculture is the future. We have to continue to inform policy makers about the viability of urban agriculture, and we also need to partner with like-minded organizations to increase our power in cities around the nation and to help create policies that are friendly to urban-agriculture efforts. Yet another major problem that we face here in Milwaukee is water. Even though we are right on the shore of one of the Great Lakes, where there is a seemingly unlimited supply of water for agriculture, we struggle to provide water to our farm. Many of our growing sites are not connected to the city’s water lines, so we have had to use fire hydrants. The city has been coming down on us for using the hydrants, but lack of water should not be something that stops you from farming in Milwaukee. We have overcome that for now by hauling water, but water policy is one of the issues we have to work on, not only here in Milwaukee but in other cities throughout the country. Many urban-agriculture projects are facing similar problems in their respective cities. In Madison, Wisconsin, for example, where Growing Power Foreword xv has a presence in the form of the Resilience Center, there is a city ordinance that allows a hoop house to stand for only 180 days. It makes absolutely no sense. You have to take it down for the rest of the year, but we need production year-round. That is something that we are working on with...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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