Accessibility & Empowerment
What I love about Mary’s story is its perfect illustration of the benefits of urban farming, especially in slums and especially for women in vulnerable positions. Why I like the concept of urban farming so much is first of all because it is so accessible and easy to adopt. Urban farming is the bridge between a life close to the city with all its possibilities and chances (like for Mary’s children), and between rural life where there is higher food security and possibility of larger agricultural plots. I feel that the in-between concept of urban farmer brings along both the benefits of these two livelihoods but also a solid ground for those who have no (capital to invest in) rural land of their own.
However, as this video shows regarding the use of sewage water, there are difficulties with this type of agriculture. It is definitely important that we, at GCARD2, start the discussion how to invest in improved conditions for urban farming in slums, even though this is an activity that benefits the marginalized groups more instantly than the reigning institutions. This is could be the next step in bridging the poverty gap!
The Wider Spectrum
Totally different from Mary’s story but with similarities regarding in my second reason to like the concept of urban farming so much is the movement of urban farming in European countries. Just a month ago, I visited the ‘urban farming festival’ in Amsterdam. One of my friends actually started the movement of urban farming in the center of Amsterdam where, following the crisis, city blocks are left bare. Each year, they rent out small ‘boxes’ with fertile soil. The small festival was organized to celebrate and show off the good results: a city neighborhood but with a stronger community feeling and raised awareness about food production, food security and agriculture among those otherwise so distant, hurried and city-focused ‘Amsterdammers’.
This is just one example of European urban farming, which although its functionality and practice is so different from Mary’s slum farming story has one factor in common: engagement and awareness about the importance of and possibilities with agriculture. Not only for the elderly, not only for far away communities but today, for us, young people!
Blogpost written by Machteld Schoolenberg, one of our GCARD social reporters