Here at Concrete Beet Farmers, we really do see ourselves as part of growing movement that is conscious of the inherent problems within our current industrialized food system. These large-scale agribusiness practices erode our topsoil and degrade our land base. They use poisonous pesticides and methods of mono-cropping that are simply not good for the environment. And the entire process of production and distribution is completely propped up by the use of fossil fuel, which makes it bad for the planet and utterly unsustainable. It is also true that the processed foods that these corporations produce have low nutritional value and contribute to America’s health problems.
So, with these things at the forefront of our consciousness, Concrete Beet Farmers is attempting to blaze a new trail! It is our desire to grow food on a smaller scale that contributes to the health of our environment, and sell it to members of the local community. We will operate with a triple bottom line: environmental sustainability, economic viability, and social goodness.
The Concrete Beet Farmers are also thrilled that the city of Minneapolis recently passed the Urban Agriculture Policy Plan, which cements in (no pun intended) urban agriculture as a keystone of future city planning. From the plan:
“The City of Minneapolis has a role to play in building a strong local food system by supporting residents’ efforts to grow, process, distribute, and consume more fresh, sustainably produced and locally grown food; and this role has been supported by the City Council through the adoption ofThe Homegrown Minneapolis Report and The Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth, the City’s Comprehensive Plan.
The Urban Agriculture Policy Plan will serve as a policy document and be incorporated into the City’s Comprehensive Plan. With the goal of promoting urban agriculture, it will detail City land use policy, present a variety of recommendations and next steps, serve as reference document, and guide future land use decisions.
Key recommendations include: defining several urban agriculture related activities, such as market gardens and urban farms, in the zoning code and altering some of the existing zoning that related to community gardens and farmers’ markets; incorporating urban agriculture into long range planning and encouraging it to be integrated with new construction projects as appropriate; and reviewing the City owned land inventory to make land that is not desirable for development, but well-suited for urban agriculture available.”
But Minneapolis isn’t alone; cities across the country are heading this direction. There is a new documentary out about the urban farming renaissance happening in the wake of post-industrial Detroit, and Will Allen is doing great things around urban agriculture in Milwaukee with his non-profit, Growing Power.
At the root of everything, what I see taking place is a new level of consciousness. We cannot continue living the way that we have been. The movement for sustainability is spreading. Our generation is coming of age, and the Concrete Beet Farmers are going along for the ride.
To access the Minneapolis Urban Agriculture Policy Plan: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cped/urban_ag_plan.asp
To find out more about the documentary on urban agriculture in Detroit: http://www.treemedia.com/treemedia.com/Urban_Roots.html
To learn about what Will Allen and Growing Power are doing in Milwaukee: http://www.growingpower.org/
To read an article I co-authored about a panel discussion on urban ag at the University of Minnesota that Will Allen was on: http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2011/04/25/digging-urban-farming-university-minnesota