Tuesday, November 27, 2012

peri-urban agriculture

"asian cities, as seen from the air, have been traditionally surrounded by a bright green corona of high-productivity market gardening, extending to the radius of the economic cartage of night soil." mike davis "planet of slums".______________________ "the impact of such problems ( pollution, particularly of surface or groundwater supplies)on the urban periphery is magnified by the fact that it is usually an area of major importance to the urban poor, offering them opportunities for cheap shelter, woodfuel, farming, and other economic activities. the destruction of this ecosystem is thus viewed differently by the urban and peri-urban populations." david drakakis-smith."third world cities".__________________________________________________ you can find quite a bit of information around about urban and peri-urban agriculture and its importance to the communities of urban poor around the world... you can find it here as well...the i u northwest community garden qualifies as urban agriculture...and most kitchen gardens in northwest indiana fall into that category as well...the produce grown in urban and peri-urban gardens in the third world ( for want of a better term...there would seem to me to be many more gradients of political and/or cultural organization than just three) provides the people there with an alternative source of subsistence outside the formal economy just as my kitchen garden provides me with some fruits and vegetables more local and doubtlessly more wholesome than the foods i could find in the supermarket at a much lower ecological ( if not monetary ) cost...that existence outside the formal economy seems to me to be a key ingredient of "urban agriculture"...a response born either of necessity or from dissatisfaction with what the formal market supplies ( or, possibly, both )...bearing that definition in mind i have to reject the idea that the industrial agriculture that takes place inside city limit or on the peri-urban fringe is urban agriculture...it's still industrial agriculture...mechanized and dependent on petrochemical inputs ( and so a contributor to the pollution of surface and groundwater drakakis-smith singles out as a major problem for the urban poor trying to grow some potatoes or peppers or tomatoes ) the biomass it produces is a commodity destined to become hot pockets, mountain dew, or feed for that future big mac...which may also be what the formal market envisions as food for the urban poor but whether it's healthy or not isn't on the radar if it doesn't impact profits...so the destruction of arable land by suburban sprawl presents a deeper problem than just saving it from gated communities of pretentious mcmansions...the methodology and philosophy behind what it grows and how it is grown needs to be addressed...food security has traditionally been a local concern...adapted to local conditions and carrying capacity...the days of drawing on resources from afar are numbered ( the "pink lady" apples from new zealand allowing an out of season snack will be a thing of the past )...time to learn to eat in season again and grow a sustainable agriculture.

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