I’ve stumbled upon a lot of articles about “urban farming” recently. They take one of two forms:
- Articles written by people who have never heard the word “garden,” and call ordinary vegetable gardens “urban farms” if they’re inside city limits.
- Articles written by people who think that skyscrapers ought to be built especially for farming.
Just Google “urban farming” and you’ll see what I mean.
All of this is very weird. How did people forget about vegetable gardens, to the point where they felt compelled to coin a new word for an ancient concept? And has anyone priced floor space in the city recently? I mean, yes, growing crops in concrete-and-steel buildings would put the capstone on industrial agriculture, finishing the job that was started by high-density livestock confinement. I can see that. But why would anyone think it desirable or environmentally sound?
I don’t have the answers, other than a gnawing feeling that people are even more disconnected from the land than I thought. People yearn for the land. I think that people who haven’t spent time in the country feel this deeply, but aren’t sure how to act on their feelings. So you get some unusual behaviors, like calling a riding mower a “lawn tractor” or an ordinary vegetable garden an “urban farm.”
I wonder how one might encourage people to channel these yearnings into actions that will give them as much of a genuine back-to-the-land experience as conditions allow. Gardens are a good start, of course, even if they are being called by a silly name.