An Urban Farmer's Truth
February 9, 2015
Cities are modern man’s forests. Dense and diverse and constantly changing - innovation is oxygen. The city as a forest supports its members, is a functioning and sustainable whole greater than the sum of its parts. It inspires us to be a part of that greater whole - to work together for a common goal. Our best neighborhoods largely function this way, to the benefit of each individual within, but this isn’t universal among all neighborhoods. There are places where the individual is lost. Like megafarms, cities are efficient, productive, and huge, and many depend on them for survival. Endless fields of corn and wheat give our comparatively endless rows of houses their daily bread. These fields, unlike the forest, aren’t self-sustaining and would fail without significant inputs. They are dense and productive, but not diverse and sustainable.
Density, diversity, productivity, and sustainability together describe the form and function of a successful ecosystem. It is more difficult to apply them broadly across a city or a megafarm, though an argument could be made for each individually in certain cases. Successful neighborhoods are dense, diverse and productive though few are sustainable. These neighborhoods, and by extension the cities that contain them, hold our greatest hope for a sustainable civilization. This outcome is not only possible but probable. Through the eyes of an urban farmer, we can understand why.
With density, diversity, and productivity in place there is a bridge to sustainability that simply involves some compost, some seeds, and some community. We can learn from the example of the forest and from the natural farmer that to cultivate sustainability, the health of the whole system must be considered and that is tied to the diversity of life within. Plants, insects, animals and humans can occupy a similar space and thrive off of each other in a balanced system. Gardeners and urban farmers are tapping into this truth - that many of our neighborhoods are one step away from the forest. It will take work, but by cultivating diversity and systemic health, we can add sustainability to our current list of strengths.
This is the force behind Sprouthood. We love cities and we love living within them. We support the natural farmers just beyond our metropolis but recognize the potential in our backyards and vacant urban land. Many of our friends are hard at work cultivating urban farms and backyard gardens, and are increasing our sustainability with each tomato they grow. We hope to be the straw that tips the sustainable revolution in the favor of cities by linking together all of our urban producers and consumers. If you believe in the potential of cities, in the power of diversity, and the hope of sustainability or you would simply like to discuss our philosophy, we would love to open this discussion in the comments below. If you are ready for density, diversity, productivity and sustainability to sprout up from communities everywhere, join us. We’ll be in the garden.