Steve’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
The United Nations has declared 2015 as the Year of the Soil. They’ve probably never declared a year more accurately. That’s not because there’s anything particularly special about 2015; it’s because EVERY year is the year of the soil. Without it, there would be no United Nations, or the people to fill the building, or the people to which they issue such proclamations. From the soil, comes all life. With their proclamation, the U.N. has also declared that the future of farming is in small-scale, urban agriculture if the human species is to survive into the foreseeable future.
Wayne Roberts is way ahead of them. He’s been working to promote urban ag for over 20 years in his city of Toronto. In this book, he lays out the whys and wherefores for those who would listen and who want to take action to make our cities sustainable. Wayne makes a compelling argument that local city governments and local neighborhood organizations that are the hope of the future. He lays out in detail just how central ‘food’ is to the function of our cities, and why a focus on food production, within the city, is the best, cheapest, and most sustainable thing cities can do to ensure that they survive into the future.
While most cities have ignored the central role of food production in the past, allowing it to fall between the cracks of vertical-thinking bureaucracy, this is no longer an option. Cities and their citizens must take action to integrate food back into their systems, into their city plans. That’s not just because our Earth is warming up rapidly, though it is. It’s also because food can help to manage all of the problems that cities face, every day.
The benefits are numerous: from saving funds on waste-water treatment, to lightening the load of rain water in our storm drain systems, to eliminating organic material from waste collection, to slashing our reliance on waning fossil fuel energy, to bringing food into the city and getting consumers to that food, to the cooling effect of green roofs, to feeding our most at-risk citizens, to creating local, tax-paying jobs in a food-oriented city, to creating beautiful gardens where people meet, making those places less attractive to criminals, to building stronger, friendlier communities. That’s the short list! Food touches everything that humans do on this planet. Everything. If we aren’t thinking about that, what the hell are we thinking about?
Read the damned book! Then get off your ass and into action! Don’t just talk about it. Don’t form another ass-sittin’, Think Tank. Instead, do as one of Wayne’s friends, Will Allen, likes to say, “Form a Do Tank!” Think while moving! And get to work! That means, do like Ron Finley, another city-food actionist says, “Just plant some shit!” Or, you can do like Steve Bivans says, “Move your ass! Stop long-dickin’!”