I've heard the cliché recently that "Local is the new organic." In response to that, a buddy of mine said "No, local is the original organic." And he's right. In the last 100 years, our food system has gone from a local farm, kitchen garden, and green grocer model, to a globalized heavily travelled agri-industrial model. But some really cool projects have sprung up recently to bring our food sources back to our neighborhoods, like the 'hyperlocavore' movement, the yardsharing idea, and distributed urban CSA farms.
Hyperlocavore is a term for "a person who tries to eat as much food as locally as possible.", coined (I believe) by Liz McLellan, the founder of the Hyperlocavore community. The big idea behind the community is 'yardsharing', or sharing skills and gardening resources such as tools, gardening space, time, strengths and skills, to facilitate growing more local food and making neighborhoods more sustainable and resilient (and getting healthy food much cheaper!).
If this appeals to you, head over right now and sign up with Hyperlocavore. Start a group for your area or neighborhood and invite all of your friends and relations to come together to create an urban food oasis!
Another very cool idea taking root is the distributed urban CSA farm. For those who don't know what a CSA is, it's Community Supported Agriculture, and members buy a share in the farm in exchange for fresh produce every week throughout the growing season (also called a box scheme in the UK). An urban distributed CSA is a CSA farm that grows in small plots scattered across the city instead of a single farm location. This lets people who have a small (or big) yard participate without having to dig or weed or water.
Boulder, Colorado's, Community Roots project is one such distributed CSA, and in their vision, they state:
"The operating principles of this project are very simple: landowners (homeowners, businesses, schools, public lands, churches) offer space for vegetable production. The grower (Community Roots) will develop this land into an intensive, productive micro-farm. Harvested produce will be shared between the landowner and the grower. The grower is free to market their share of the produce, which could be done a number of ways including: farmer's markets, CSA (community supported agriculture), roadside stands, direct marketing to local restaurants, neighborhood cooperatives, etc… In very basic terms, this is a form of modern day sharecropping!"
Another urban CSA is MyFarm, in San Francisco, which lists this as their vision:
"At MyFarm it is our mission to make growing food and growing community one in the same. We believe in the power of the individual. But we believe true power comes from working together towards a better future for all. Our vision is a truly secure and regenerative food system."
For the would-be farmer without access to land, the distributed farm model is a great place to start. It fills a need for more local food, a tighter community, and a brighter future for all. Contact My Farm or Community Roots for more info on how to begin.