On August 19th GapersBlock posted Bring an Urban Farmer to Chicago. It
was a call to drum up support to bring Novella Carpenter, author of
Farm City, to Chicago to teach workshops about urban farming. I've read
nothing but good things about Farm City and I'm sure Ms. Carpenter is a
very nice person who has a lot of information people would benefit
from, but I question the need to bring an urban farmer to Chicago.
I replied via Twitter:
"Instead of bringing an urban farmer to Chicago, lets support the urban farmers who live here and better the city."
The GapersBlock account asked:
My reply was:
It was my attempt at humor, but there is truth to it. Unfortunately, there is no government bailout for the groups and people who are working in some of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods to better communities. I'm not in a
position to support some of my favorite urban agriculture projects in
Chicago like I wish I could. Although, I have tried to support them by
blogging about their events, workshops and fundraisers (here on Chicago
Garden and on Twitter) in the hopes that the extra exposure helps.
couple of weeks ago I made a post about a video segment on Growing Home's Wood Street Urban Farm
and mentioned the office supplies they need. This week Growing Home posted a plea
for help to bridge their $100,000 funding gap. It reads in part:
"Most foundations that supported us in the past have continued to
support us, but some lowered the amounts of their grants, and others
kept the amounts stable even though our need has grown. Despite the
efforts of all of our staff, and the support of many wonderful
organizations, and hundreds of individuals like you,foundation funding
is about $100,000 below what we budgeted for this year."
I'm thinking of cutting off my internet connection at home to save a few bucks. I'm freaking out because of the changes that would create for my life that has become so tethered to the Internet. I can't imagine running a program like Growing Home and pondering what a shortfall for them will mean to people who are worse off than I am.
No disrespect meant to either GapersBlock or Ms. Carpenter, but in this economy we can't afford to
"pony up" cash to bring an urban farmer to Chicago when we have plenty
of them. It seems counter intuitive to me to do so when our own urban farmers, who provide job training and
alternatives to life on the streets, are hurting. If you're worried
about the "riots" in Uptown, the beatings of bikers or the Lakeview
muggings support Chicago's urban farmers. Buy the things they produce
here in Chicago, attend their workshops & fundraisers, volunteer or
donate at community gardens, this will provide Chicagoans: jobs,
training and alternatives. If you're not worried then bring Novella
Carpenter to Chicago. Just remember that she gets to go home to California, you have to
stay and deal with this mess.
If you don't believe that plants and gardens can create change see the video on the Cook County Boot Camp Vegetable Garden.
Know of other urban agriculture projects in Chicgao in need of help? Leave a comment and I'll link them in this post or I'll add info about fundraisers and workshops in the "Chicago Gardener Events" post I put up on a monthly basis.
Update: The Chicago Honey Co-op is in need of a new printer after their last one used to print product labels died. "Color laser with duplex printing, capable of 1200x1200 resolution."