TruthToTell Monday, May 21−9AM: HOMEGROWN HEALTH: Community Gardens and Food Justice

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Not everything on the food horizon is an upper – especially the statistics on obesity rates in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. And, unfortunately, race rears its head in the availability and accessibility of healthy food. Will Allen, the iconic healthy food grower (Growing Power) and advocate based in Milwaukee has said it out loud:
“A food system consists of the processes in place that bring food to your table each day. It is the people, fields, machines and organizations involved in creating the grain bar in your pocket or the beverage you drink for breakfast. A food system is the sum of the guiding forces and values that inform the production, harvest, processing, transporting and marketing of the food we consume at each meal.

“The food system, as it functions today, is an undeniable part of our nation’s march towards economic and political power. It is a part and parcel of the historical pattern of denying certain people land, resources and power based on their ethnic group and/or skin color. Models of cultivation, harvest, processing and delivery exploited the labor of people of color who, through their underpaid or slave labor, helped to sustain an abundance of low cost of food. These patterns persist. The U.S. food supply and it’s relative abundance and low-cost today is largely dependent on labor inputs from migrant farm workers, who often do not have citizen status, who are underpaid for seasonal work and live with the threat of deportation…”

But one thing is clear, at least in the Twin Cities: community and urban gardens are IN! And folks of color as well as the majority community are marching in lock-step toward a better and healthier population throughout our diverse communities.

In fact, in many large cities across the country which have found their cores eaten away by poverty and abandonment, rotting and fallen houses are being replaced with very real farms.
Here in the Twin Cities, however, the trend is toward finding people who need, but haven’t been able to access locally grown, fresh foods and more stable and healthy diets as a result – and getting them into the business of seeking and even growing their own fresher foods.

Now, the task may be to fight the powerful fast food and corporate farming industry who advertise the fat foods with little attention to fresh vegetables everyone needs.

Of course, this isn’t the first year this has happened. We’ve covered some of this gardening activity over the last four or five seasons on TruthToTell. But the scale seems to have grown exponentially in 2012.

Community gardens of significant substance are cropping up (forgive the pun) all over the core cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. And these are gardens in neighborhoods all over the place.
So, how can you become connected to this important source of beauty and nutrition? What are the possibilities? The “rules of the growing game?” And tricks of the trade? Who are the people in your neighborhood wanting you to be part of the plotting for a healthier community and ready to encourage your participation in your better health – and that of your children?

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI bring together just four of the hundreds of your neighbors learning and teaching the simplicity of growing good things in backyard or public plots set aside by the cities for just this purpose, and our guests have become the experts at this business.

GUESTS:

PATRICIA OHMANS – Director, Frogtown Farm, St. Paul 

CYNDY CRIST Ramsey County Master Gardener and Garden Designer/Teacher

MUSTAFA SUNDIATA - Co-Chair for Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council; Former Coordinator for NorthPoint’s Food Shelf; Former Coordinator for Northside Fresh!

KIRSTEN SAYLOR – Executive Director, Gardening Matters, Minneapolis/St. Paul

KEY SITES:
 
Gardening Matters: Coalition building, information, advocacy and more on community gardening:
 
Minnesota Extension Service Yard and Garden News: Great newsletter for gardeners, paid for with your tax dollars!
 
Yards to Gardens: A Twin Cities website that connects people who are looking for gardening space with people who have space available.
 
Permaculture Research Institute: Research, education, demonstration, and community-building for urban gardeners in “northern temperate climates”. Sponsors of Backyard Harvest,  which helps urban farmers work in others’ backyards.
 
Twin Cities Urban Ag Connection: A networking tool with info about urban agricultural activities in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
 
Urban Farming: A Michigan non-profit with operations in the Twin Cities; school and community gardens in which harvests are free. They sponsor a community garden in Frogtown, at 533 N. Dale Street.
 
Growing Power: Wisconsin based urban gardening initiative and land trust