Royte notes the inherent challenges for advocates of urban agriculture:
…there is something almost fanciful in exhorting a person to grow food when he lives in an apartment or doesn’t have a landlord’s permission to garden on the roof or in an empty lot.
But the edible landscaping trend is taking root wherever there’s soil, and even where there isn’t, with the help of exhibits like the New York Botanical Garden’s Edible Garden, which just opened last weekend and runs through September 13th.
The Edible Garden exhibitions include a Good Food Garden, a Seed Savers Heirloom Vegetable Garden, and a Beginner’s Vegetable Garden, along with a half dozen other edible landscape-related exhibits. Rosalind Creasy, whose essential but long-out-of-print book Edible Landscaping has a new edition coming out in 2010, thankfully, designed the Heirloom Vegetable Garden. Other homegrown heroes like Kitchen Gardeners International founder Roger Doiron and Slow Food USA‘s new president Josh Viertel will be among the featured speakers at events taking place over the course of the summer.
If I may borrow from Stephen Colbert, I’d like to give a tip of the hat to cookware company Anolon, a major sponsor of the NYBG Edible Garden exhibition whose own Creating a Delicious Future campaign seeks to remedy kitchen illiteracy by fostering “a return to eating delicious foods prepared simply at home using fresh, seasonal, local ingredients.”
The exhibition’s other major sponsor, Scott’s Miracle Gro, gets a wag of the finger: hey, guys, great way to greenwash the profits from all those pesticides the EPA has ordered you to take off the shelves.
Another wonderful edible gardening program to which I’ll gladly give a shout-out is the Giving Through Growing campaign sponsored by Robert Mondavi’s Woodbridge Winery in partnership with The American Community Gardening Association. Woodbridge is donating $40,000 this year to the ACGA to help provide “educational tools, leadership training, and community building strategies to participants in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.” As the Giving Through Growing website notes, the ACGA estimates that over 2,000 new community gardens will be established this year, on top of the 20,000 existing community gardens.
The Giving Through Growing program encourages you to send virtual “eSeeds” to your friends, and for every eSeed that’s planted, Woodbridge will donate a dollar to the ACGS. It’s a pretty painless way to show support for the folks who are greening our urban spaces.
Those of us who garden understand that food waste can either become “black gold,” i.e. soil-enriching compost, or be shipped off to the landfill where it rots and generates methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas. Animal manures, too, can be a blessing to a farmer who raises his livestock on pasture, where the manure returns fertility to the soil as it has for centuries.
But when you crowd farm animals into what Jon Stewart aptly dubbed “an Abu Ghraib of animals” on Thursday’s Daily Show in his interview with Food, Inc.‘s Robert Kenner, the massive quantities of manure that result become an environmental disaster.