July 27, 2012 - At Fresh City, we are often asked why we do what we do. We usually respond with our mission statement -- to bring makers and eaters together. But a mission doesn't really tell you the why, it tells you the how. And the why is what ultimately gets you up in the morning.
Why are we spending so much time and money trying to forge a commercially viable model for city farming? As an organization, we sat down to answer this question very early on. And at the end of the day, the crux of our inner fires was this -- we wanted to respect life, both future and present. That may seem rather abstract and, to some, perhaps rather corny, but that's where the initial thrust came from for us.
How did we go from wanting to 'respect life' to our mission statement? Why bring makers and eaters closer together? We believe its the vast distance between makers and eaters that is one of the chief winds blowing our food system into the dire storm it currently finds itself in. We have lost any connection to the land, to how food is made and to who makes our food. That which we know not, we value not, we respect not. It's hard to yearn for artisanship in food making, when one has never met an artisan or seen her art.
And this is where city farming comes in -- it's perhaps the most positive, sensory-laden, human way we can connect people with real food and its joys given the way the world is. At Fresh City, we are celebrating the city and all it entails -- diversity, opportunity, cosmopolitanism -- while trying to chip away at the alienation from and commodification of food that its proliferation has created. You simply cannot replace a whiff of lavender, a sunflower's glow at sunset, boots weighed down with rich-soil mud, an August tomato's dribble down your chin or the calloused handshake of a farmer. This is the stuff of the childhood memories and, hopefully, of the moment that changes how you think about how you eat or even the world and it's environmental challenges.
We, as a society, will certainly not wrest control over the food system from the large national retailers by outspending them or by fashioning even more flawless supply chains. The only way our food system will fundamentally change is by nourishing a constituency to the point of critical mass. This critical mass will act not only as consumers, but more importantly as citizens. The prospect of that is certainly worth getting up for every morning.
Happily, we are not the only ones that think so -- there is a burgeoning city farming movement afoot. And in August, some of the leading practitioners and thought leaders of the movement is coming to Toronto in the form of the Urban Agriculture Summit. Come learn more about Fresh City and other amazing initiatives around the world and meet the people trying to change the world, one seed, one yard, one city at a time.
-Ran Goel, Co-Founder, Fresh City Farms