I am a “urban” woman, I did not grow into a farm, and I am getting interested in how does my food grow for only 5 years.
Urban farms are essential to reconnect urban citizens to nature, to their food and agricultural techniques. How many times did I hear “each time I am growing something it dies”.
In Mexico I visited two urban farms, with very different concepts.
The first one is Huerto Roma Verde, in la Roma, a quite new and well-off neighbourhood. They have a mandala garden, a temazcal, a “seedbrary” (in French I would have said “grainothèque”), a place for compost, and also a bar, a shop for organic products and even a “zocalo” (central place) to organize events and parties for the neighbours.
The second one is Huerto Tlatelolco, in Tlatelolco, a working-class neighbourhood. The Huerto has been built in 2012 on a public space, previously the Torre Oaxaca that have been so damaged by the 1985 earthquake that they had to knock it down.
I met Gabriela, the founder, and Mario, a sociologist working there, together with an agronomist, a biologist and a farmer. They are gathering a very large audience, from neighbours to students, from families to elderly persons.
This is Mario
They offer to be a volunteer for one day or for programs to learn how to grow your own food, how to do eco-construction, how to save seeds… Their main objective is to gather, transform and reinforce the communities through educating people to ecological techniques and reconnecting them with nature, soil, seeds. Agriculture is the best to connect your brain, emotions and even spirituality. The volunteers can leave the garden with food and they sell the rest to pay wages, the best chefs of the city are interested in the quality of the food !
They have a big focus on seeds, because they know they have a role to play in the conservation of varieties. They built a seed bank, where seeds are reproduced every year to grow the collection and give them to as many people as possible. Conserving seeds is a matter of autonomy for the garden… and for the neighbours !
To conclude, for me the first objective of a urban farm is to gather neighbours around agriculture to :
- reconnect them with nature ;
- talk about how does our food grow ;
- and raise consciousness about autonomy in seeds, food, and finally… life !
About seeds, urban farms are the first link between people and seeds, they are part of the solution ! And to listen more about urban farming, check out this seed video starring Swen and his urban farm in Bobigny (France).