Local Food, Solving Local Problems

Authors: Hakim Cunningham, Green For All Fellow

Since our earliest time on this planet, people have hunted, gathered and farmed land to ensure our survival. Agriculture - and urban agriculture - is nothing new; it has just taken a while for it to catch on in the United States. 

The job of urban agricultural advocates is to ensure that we develop a comprehensive approach to addressing the problem of local hunger. As farmers in the inner city, we strive to grow food that can address growing food shortage problems. I work with the Boston Workers Alliance. Here - and across the country - there are families who have to choose between fresh produce and meat or paying their bills to keep their houses and utilities. As restrictions on assistance increase, drying up funds that help low-income people feed themselves and their families, we are pushing for a replacement.

Through my work at Boston Workers Alliance, I have seen the power of building community sustainability. The garden we have developed is a place for parents to bond with their children and a valuable source for produce to community members. Proud of her accomplishments in the garden, community member Aaliyah even shared her Hungarian Wax Hot Peppers with a perfect stranger on the bus who asked where she had gotten such fresh produce. She later called me to thank me for the blessings passed forward through that pepper. Gardening not only nourishes us physically and emotionally but also allows us to build bonds with our neighbors. 

We need to rely on local resources like urban agriculture, seed libraries, vacant land and green roofs, and allow for mass production of locally grown, pesticide-free food. We must also make this food readily available to the public at a substantially reduced price or even for free for those who cannot afford it. Shifting our perspective on where our food comes from is imperative. One-in-five children live in poverty or are hungry in the U.S. By bringing farming back to our cities, we can feed our people healthy fresh food, produce and even fresh meats, fruits and fish. The time is now to reevaluate our food consumption and our food supply chain. We must make food local - and accessible to all who need it.

Hakim Cunningham — Boston, MA

Hakim was born and raised in the streets of Boston. The product of a Jamaican immigrant father and a Native American mother from Florida, he grew up in a predominantly Caribbean neighborhood in the Dorchester Center area of Boston.
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