The contrast between the antidiluvian attitudes threaded through both the local newspaper and Indiana University, as illustrated by my post —
— and various ordinances that these ten cities have put in place to make sure that local food not just happens, but vastly increases in both scope and density, could not be more stark.
Our own fair city has its visionary Peak Oil Task Force Report from 2009, an “advisory” document written by local experts to figure out food, energy, infrastructural and other changes needed as the petrochemical industry winds down and long-distance transport of food and supplies dwindles. (Read it, especially the unusually detailed section on how to achieve local food sovereignty by permaculture teacher and author Peter Bane.) That report, two years in the making, was spearheaded by one of the city councilmen and passed by the Council. It’s supposed to guide public policy. Over four years later, has it?
Well, we can have four backyard (female) chickens now without permission from the neighbors. (That was a huge advance, actually.) And what else? Oh yes, we can make gardens anywhere on our property — side lawns and front yards, too, not just in back yards. Anything else? Not sure. I know we’ve felt hampered in our efforts here with the GANG garden (no greenhouse, because the DeKist property it sits on is already built out in terms of allowable square feet given to structures). And it sure would be nice if we could have front yard chickens, or ducks (I walked by a house with fenced-in front yard ducks in Seattle last year). And I don’t think we can legally “sell” seedlings from the GANG garden by displaying a small sign out front — though we did do that briefly and discreetly during this spring’s planting season; and I’d sure like to have a little farmstand in front of the GANG during harvest season, though I bet we can’t legally, and don’t even want to ask. Frankly, I am concerned about drawing the attention of the city, given that we’re on their radar already and I’d like that to quiet down . . .
On and on. How about a goat-drawn cart that lives somewhere in the neighborhood and gets harnessed up to stroll through Green Acres streets with vegetables from the GANG and other neighborhood gardens for sale or trade or gift neighbor to neighbor? Nix that. Nix even the idea of that. Way too contrasty with existing ordinances. But you know, I just can’t help but imagine a better, fuller life. And I know a lot of other people in this town just can’t help but imagine a better fuller life, and I know that some of these intrepid folks are working on city commissions to bend city institutional structures towards urban farming, and I know that by hook or by crook, in the not too distant future our fair city too will have urban farming friendly ordinances to go along with its fabulous, year-round Saturday market, its numerous local food NGOs, and its far-seeing “advisory document’s stated goals.
BTW: Follow-up from my story on walk with puppy Shadow above: The student-run community garden that is to be displaced by two houses being moved to those “empty lots” in order to make room for a new FIJI frat house? That post of mine was the first notice the Sprouts people got about the university’s plans for their beloved garden. And of course they’re shocked, hoppin’ mad — and mobilizing.
Glad I followed my instinct and took that walk.