The deep orange of a perfect apricot at the end of the long, hot summer, along with the grapevine that transformed our side yard into the secret garden – these are stark memories of my childhood. The sensory experience sticks with me – the smell of ripe fruit, the clear blue sky, the dripping heat and the endless summer break. These memories tie me to the earth and live on in my urban gardening heart. In my first summer college internship for the County of Ventura Planning Department, I drafted regulations for roadside fruit stands – just how big of a stand should be allowed without a permit? Follow the Southern California experience with Santa Cruz, surrounded by some of the most fertile lands in Central California where I had taste tests between organic and traditional strawberries, and on to Portland where the running joke is that you can source the chicken and honey at the Imperial á la a Portlandia episode. Given this background, it comes as no surprise that I had the opportunity to peer review the American Bar Associations’ recently published Urban Agriculture: Policy, Law, Strategy, and Implementation.
Any planner or lawyer interested in this topic should consider this Urban Agriculture book a valuable resource. It answers questions from municipal ownership of urban farms and garden plots, to how urban farming is a first step towards neighborhood revitalization and serves to bridge the gap to access to fresh foods in low-income neighborhoods. One author examines Detroit’s concerted effort to use urban farming to empower residents and rebuild the inner-city while improving the environment and lowering the heat-island effect, curbing illegal dumping and other criminal activity, providing a catalyst and opportunity for young people to pursue careers in agriculture, and most importantly provide access for community residents to fresh food for all income levels.
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