By Rachel Farrell
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University invites the public to hear Mike Davis as he speaks about his inspiration to pursue an urban farming endeavor near his home in Detroit, Mich.
The talk, sponsored by the university’s Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Clare College, will begin at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, in the Walsh Amphitheater on campus.
Davis, who has created public service campaigns garnering some of the world’s major advertising awards, also has firsthand knowledge of the transforming power of urban farming through the impact of his project, Hamtown Farms, on his own community.
Others have referred to a Chinese proverb about teaching a man to fish when speaking of the urban farming movement. After reading many positive success stories on the subject, a valid re-write of the quote for this generation might be, “Give a man produce and you feed him for a day; teach a man to grow produce and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Advocates of the movement have found that urban farming is giving needy people and communities a much-needed sense of hope and pride. They have hope in providing healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables for themselves and their neighbors, and pride in knowing these items were grown by their own hands on land they have worked hard together to cultivate.
The happy byproducts of urban farms are aesthetic as well as practical in nature, say many supporters. They transform litter-ridden deserted lots into vibrant vegetable and fruit producing green spaces; they build a strong community by becoming a gathering place for neighbors and giving families ownership through their contribution to the land; and they deter crime, as it is hard to commit in an active, vibrant neighborhood.
Many who are benefiting from farms say that planting, cultivating and harvesting can be a family activity, or an energy outlet for kids with extra time on their hands. This helps build stronger families and gives kids an alternative to watching television. Money once spent on the produce they have grown, can instead be spent at local establishments, which improves the economy of the community.
Can urban farming save the world? Nobody knows for sure. Can urban farming transform a neighborhood block, or a whole city? Those who’ve experienced it say, “Absolutely!”