"At some point, this industrial tack that we've been on, we're going to fondly remember the end point of that and realize 'you can't eat that.' And that little green square, as seen from the air, to me is the first space, the first move. As soon as we can get that back to green, that's going to have a huge ripple effect. When we get it back green, it's going to accelerate everything." ~John Quigley, Environmental Activist and supporter of South Central Farmers I have to admit that I am only half way through Jennifer Cockrall-King's book, Food in the City. I have been stuffing it into my farming bag, on top of my pruners and gloves, next to my compost-stained notebook documenting volunteer To-Do tasks at the urban farm where I work. With this book in dirty hands, I actually wish the bus ride to and from downtown was longer! Cockrall-King has gathered information from many recent publications about the urban farming movement as well as documented her own visitations to city-bound plots across the northern hemisphere and synthesized her findings in this highly informative book.
Often optimistic but sometimes heartbreaking, she paints a green-tinted picture of the incredible potential of urban farming to change our food system, our politics, our lives. She also illustrates the challenges that have been faced, such as the plight of the South Central Farmers in Los Angeles: After the 1992 race riots the community built an amazing garden on public land. In 2007 the government quietly sold it off to a new owner who bulldozed the farm and has not "improved" it since the destruction five years ago. The land sits empty, a chain link fence preventing farmers from growing food for their families. It is stories like this that makes one shake their head in bewilderment among all of the otherwise inspiring examples of community cohesion and fortitude.
This mixture of hope and call to action engages the reader as Cockrall-King wanders through the farms and gardens of cities such as Detroit, LA, Chicago,London, and Toronto. My bus rides have been full of scribbled notes in the margins, sighing (South Central Farmers), and smiling (farms surviving and championed in urban centers across the globe) as I adventure with her, vicariously sampling peas and amaranth on my way to my own urban oasis and living classroom. This book is a journey into literal urban jungles well worth taking.
Join Slow Food Urban San Diego and the Food Justice Committee from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Price Building in City Heights room 640 to meet Jennifer Cockrall King, author of Food an the City: Urban Agriculture and The New Food Revolution. Following a discussion including local food advocacy and justice groups, the author will be available for book signing.
For more information about this event, click here.