Friday, September 5, 2008

Neighborhood Food Enterprise

"This isn't just another thing for corporate America to cash into, " Joffe says of organic's growing chic. "It's not just a trend. It's a true paradigm shift. It's about sustainability and social justice, not just about the rich having access."

Kate Leslie. "A Growing Business," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 4, 2008

In Nonprofit Leadership'sfinal chapter I reflect on the state of community economic development and suggest we've exhausted much of the current paradigm and are beginning to see the shape and direction of a new version of community economic development. Some of the aspects of this emerging paradigm include social enterprise, regionalism, new immigrant associations,and communal asset building.

For me, what is anchoring the place or neighborhood dimension of this new community economic development is local food production, ranging from community and market gardens, famer's markets, fish farms, urban/rural linkages, and speciality enterprises. It's about health, jobs, volunteering, lowering food costs, enterprise formation, creating markets, local policy,and building on community assets.

In the past week I've visited a couple of examples at different levels of development that have really turned my head. Growing Power, Inc. in Milwaukee is an education/research/and production urban farm that grows soil, fish, greens, and lots of other stuff. They employ 35, work with young people, and are spreading to Chicago, and beyond.

CVC Urban Farms in the Atlanta neighborhood of West End on a piece of rolling church land is only a year old but has about twenty raised beds and big plans for a fish farm and education center. They seek local subscribers and hold a farmer's market on the weekend.

These are just two examples. Cities and towns of all sizes are digging into urban agriculture. It's the kind of grassroots economics that spirited the best of community economic development. It's not the whole story, but I've become a believer that it is a big part of the emerging paradigm of community economic development.


BruceMcF said...

Saw this over at Agent Orange (aka Daily Kos). Note that it is etiquette at dKos for the author to post a "tip jar" comment (read the FAQ entry on tip jars for explanation if you want the full story).

Stories without tip jars are often ignored by commentators on the assumption that the author is not around to talk.

Anonymous said...

Good info Bruce, thanks.