I’ve seen the statistic time and time again. During World War I and World War II our nation was able to produce a staggering amount of food in backyards. During World War II we were able to produce 40% of our food in backyard Victory Gardens (and backyard Victory Flocks). That’s impressive to say the least. It really wasn’t that long ago that this occurred. But when the war ended it became the era of convenience food. Food that wasn’t really food, but just a shell of what food used to be. Gone are the days when people knew how to break down a chicken carcass, let alone know how to slaughter one. Everything now is boneless and skinless. It’s no wonder kids today don’t realize that chickens actually have bones.
Urban farming has seen a resurgence with the economic slump. Our food system is laying next to our economy in the toilet. Gone are the days of the Victory Garden, but it appears that they may be coming back. Our food system has become so adulterated with chemicals, food borne disease and GMOs that it’s no wonder people are becoming increasingly wary of it. Our arable land is becoming increasingly polluted and scarce.
I’m meeting more and more people, almost every day, that want to know more about growing their own food and raising their own livestock. Every single one of them wants to do it because they want to save money and they want to eat healthier food. They want to take control of their own personal food system and be able to depend on it if they need to.
But there are naysayers that say this is just a fad. We’re not serious and we won’t stick with it for very long. It’s too much hard work and not sustainable. They say that when we get tired of it we’ll just go back to the industrial food system because it’s easier and cheaper. I can’t argue with easier, but I sure can argue cheaper. Last year we spent $655 on seeds, plants, trees, irrigation supplies, and amendments. That $655 turned into 1,232lbs of food. Even at just $0.71/lb (the average price for conventional produce) I still saved nearly $220. Of course that savings increases substantially when you compare it to organic, local food. With inflation this savings may become more and more.
So is this a fad? Maybe for some it is, but for many of us it is a lifetime commitment. We have educated ourselves about where our food comes from and once you know enough to be disgusted enough to grow/raise your own the more likely you will be to stick with it. If it was exceedingly difficult people wouldn’t take it on in the first place. It’s also important to note that urban farming isn’t anything new to the United States, let along new since WWII. It’s just recently with the focus on food deserts, food security, and policy have brought urban agriculture to the forefront. Now that it’s making headlines people all of a sudden are thinking that it’s this new hobby people are taking on.
My grandfather kept his Victory Garden until he died. He taught me how to grow food and how to appreciated homegrown food. My mom grew food. Once I moved into my first house after college (I lived in apartments up until then) I started growing food as well. I’ve had a love for producing my own food almost my entire life. Every Spring I get this overwhelming desire to plant seeds. For me this is not a fad.
I have friends that have urban farms because it’s something their family has always done, including raising livestock. For them it’s not a fad.
We talk to people that remember growing up visiting their grandparent’s or other relatives’ farm and they want their children to appreciate food like they do. For them, this is not a fad.
Eventually the media coverage will die down and people will just continue on urban farming like we have been. We’re building a new way of life.