GOOD

Can Urban Farms Translate Popularity into Profitability?

The following is an excerpt from a piece by Sena Christian from the Earth Island Journal's Spring 2010 issue.


City farms are sprouting in all sorts of unlikely places: in empty lots next to apartment complexes, across from high schools, and in old industrial centers. Sizeable food-production plots have sprung up in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Oakland, Milwaukee, Boston, Detroit, and San Francisco. The Food Project in Lincoln, Massachusetts involves more than 100 teenage farmers annually. Brooklyn boasts Added Value in the working class Redhook neighborhood. Phoenix has the aptly named Urban Farm.

Although part of the broader sustainable food phenomenon, many of the country’s urban farms seek to tackle issues that Whole Foods, with its relatively high prices and affluent customers, is not addressing. The urban farm movement aims to take control of food production away from large-scale industrial agriculture and root it within local food systems that attempt to ensure food access for the urban poor. Often located in low-income neighborhoods, many city farms operate off the basic premise that healthy, affordable food is a basic human right. “Food justice” is the mantra of most, if not all, of the organizations in the urban farming movement. That means serving the estimated 14 percent of Americans who experience food insecurity – 49 million people who are unsure where they’ll find their next meal.

Yet urban farming’s potential to address the challenges of our food system remains unclear. Although popularity and trendiness can be big boons to business, these urban farms haven’t yet found a way to thrive in the market economy. Most rely heavily on volunteer labor and grant funding. They may be at the forefront of ecological sustainability, but economic sustainability eludes them. And that’s a problem because they are unlikely to fulfill their aspirations and make a meaningful dent in the problem of food insecurity if they are forever running on the treadmill of foundation funding.

This piece appears in the Summer 2010 issue of Earth Island Journal.

Photo by Anne Hamersky, courtesy of Earth Island Journal.

Articles
via David Leavitt / Twitter and RealTargetTori / Twitter

Last Friday, GOOD reported on an infuriating incident that went down at a Massachusetts Target.

A Target manager who's come to be known as "Target Tori," was harassed by Twitter troll David Leavitt for not selling him an $89 Oral-B Pro 5000 toothbrush for a penny.

He describes himself as a "multimedia journalist who has worked for CBS, AXS, Yahoo, and others."

Keep Reading
Communities
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business
via Haldean Brown / Flickr

In a typical work day, people who smoke take more breaks than those who do not. Every few hours they pop outside to have a smoke and usually take a coworker with them.

Don Bryden, Managing director at KCJ Training and Employment Solutions in Swindon, England, thinks that nonsmokers and smokers should be treated equally, so he's giving those who refrain from smoking four extra days to compensate.

Funny enough, Bryden is a smoker himself.

Keep Reading
Health