In Thursday’s Post-Gazette, I wrote about the groundswell of interest in city gardens and farms in Pittsburgh. This fever to grow our own has mushroomed all over the country. I think it’s a natural response to a society that’s been out of whack for many decades. Everyone instinctively knows that food doesn’t grow in supermarkets, but we have been led astray by the subversive corporate culture that pushes convenience.
Of course we need grocery stores and markets. We also need serious rehab from our addiction to convenience. It is killing us.
Just in time, along come these radical crazies who want to make sure their food is clean and naturally grown, whether on hoof or from seed; these wide-eyed pollyannas who believe that the human being deserves to be at one with the world, not its puppet master; these goofies who want to live in the city (the greenest way to live) but still know their food.
At a recent planning commission meeting, several members made queasy faces at the idea that people who live in dense city neighborhoods should be allowed to raise chickens and bees. Todd Reidbord was slightly apologetic at his attitude that if you live in the city, you should act like you live in the city and not like you live on a farm. That wasn’t an old-fashioned attitude a few years ago but it is now.
The best city is the one in which you can live as fully as possible. Pittsburgh has approximately 20,000 vacant parcels. On the ones that can be cobbled together to make a farm, we might want farmers. Cows, pigs, goats, sheep... bring ‘em on. Bring ‘em in close. We need a remedy for the cancer of sprawl that’s consuming our traditional farmland.
In response to my article on urban farming, I heard from Steve McFadden, author of “The Call of the Land: An Agrarian Primer for the 21st Century.”
He said the issue of chicken keeping has come up frequently in the United States and Canada over the past few years and that most municipalities have found a way to make it possible. Roosters, because they crow so early in the morning, are not permitted in most places.
He sent a synopsis of his book, part of which I will include here:
“The Call of the Land” gives voice to a growing chorus of 21st-century agrarians working to create a secure, sustainable food system. This chorus includes not just sustainable farmers, gardeners, CSAs, urban farmers, and farmers markets, but also Slow Food, locavore, and food-security activists in cities, suburbs, rural areas, churches, companies, and campuses.”
“The new book presents basic agrarian theory and then offers readers dozens of creative responses to the challenges confronting our farms, our food, and our communities.”
Steve’s blog is at http://www.thecalloftheland.com.