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Edible Cities

Autism and many other health challenges arise because food is neither local, nor fresh; processed and canned foods simply do not offer enough nutrients to sustain body repair and maintenance.  I find it so delightful that more and more communities are creating edible landscaping on public property.  One of the things that would gladden my heart would be to see corporations competing to produce the most food on their landscaping…

Arvind Balaraman, freedigitalphotos.net

Arvind Balaraman, freedigitalphotos.net

Burlington (in Vermont) has the Intervale, and a community program that has been increasing the ratio of city food produced within city boundaries at a pace much faster than expected, for the past 15 years or more.  Local people were so inspired that the incubators of local food projects work overtime to help all the start-ups.

Now Victoria is beginning a community orchard (http://www.vicnews.com/news/218857551.html).  Caretaking plans seem to be the hardest thing to sell municipalities on — who will harvest the produce, and keep it from becoming a mess on the city’s hands?  And how reliable will that caretaking be over time, especially over the life of a tree?  In communities with high turnover and lots of mobility, these mechanisms take a lot of extra thought and effort, but they’re not insurmountable.

I remember being told about a co-housing project in a very poor area of California.  They fundraised to plant trees along the edges of the surrounding roads, and organized local children and youth into multi-aged small teams.  Different ages learned and took care of different tasks, and each mentored the younger children.  Everything from pruning through sale of produce was handled by each tree’s team, teaching small business skills and a host of collaborative abilities.  How many ‘wins’ could be designed into urban food production?

It’s a dream of mine, to see every urban area a sea of non-toxic and edible landscaping, from tree right down to root, from rooftop gardens to earth-sheltered greenhouses (for those of us in places with serious winters).  We know enough about how to detoxify soil with mushrooms, how to bio-accumulate and mine re-usables like metals from the plants.  What would our world be like if everyone had access to the most fresh, and the most local food, within blocks of where they lived?

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