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No Buts About It ... the Value of Urban Food Production
Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (2013)
  • Evan L. Weissman, Syracuse University

In their provocative essay, Alan Hallsworth and Alfred Wong (2013) contend that academics, activists, and policy makers exaggerate the benefits of urban food gardening. They state: "There is no basis to expect that [urban gardening] could ever deliver fresher food and/or lower cost foods." The authors attempt to explain the shortcomings of urban gardening as a food security strategy by highlighting its barriers in Vancouver, Canada, especially the climactic obstacles to production in northern regions and the age-old real estate adage of "highest and best land use" that precludes urban food production. Hallsworth and Wong's assumptions could not be more incorrect, and rather than simply stoking debate, the authors unwittingly provide fodder for the detractors of urban agriculture, of which there are many. Indeed, urban gardening plays a significant role within the city as public space, as an economic development strategy, and as a community-organizing tool. Most importantly, urban food production contributes to household food security. To cite just one example from my own research: a 1⁄2 acre (0.2 ha) urban farm project in Brooklyn, New York - East New York Farms! - produces over USD20,000 of fresh produce annually in a neighborhood defined by disparities in fresh food access. Over 70 percent of the farm's transactions are made through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (i.e., food stamps), meaning that fresh produce is reaching community members in high need (personal interview with East New York Farms manager, June 15, 2010).

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Evan L. Weissman. "No Buts About It ... the Value of Urban Food Production" Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development Vol. 3 Iss. 2 (2013)
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