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An exciting new project is underway in Windsor, ON. FedUp is a community gardening network, which promotes sustainable food production. It aims to transform the current urban landscape into a greener, more livable, and democratically controlled space. So far, two backyards and a large field have been donated to FedUp, and participants have been building, weeding, and watering gardens there since early spring. Using organic and permaculture techniques, FedUp seeks to demonstrate that urban gardening that supplies local food needs is not only possible, but far more environmentally and socially desirable than the current globalized, agribusiness food production system.
The idea is to have free and accessible garden plots for any resident wishing to maintain one, and a community network which promotes skill sharing and ensures no food grown goes to waste. As industrial agriculture becomes increasingly dependent on fossil fuels, chemical pesticides, GMOs, herbicides and artificial fertilizers, and policy that prioritizes profit accumulation over feeding the world's population, it has become clear that a new system of food production is required.
By converting more urban space to gardens, not only can suburban areas converted back to forest, but cities become greener by changing impervious surfaces to vegetation. Also, localized gardening is primarily driven by human energy, not oil powered machines. Permaculture techniques, such as companion planting, allow greater cooperation between plants; such agricultural practices have proven, over generations of gardeners from all over the world, to produce more abundant, culturally appropriate, disease-resistant, and nutritious crops.
Community run urban gardens also ensure a far better sense of food security than the current capitalist model. Examples are: Cuba in the early 90s, when the Soviet collapse crippled oil dependent Cuban agriculture and the population escaped starvation with large public gardens; and Detroit in the depression of the 1890s, when a total of 945 families participated in the first year. Urban space was converted to garden space, saving large numbers of the population from starvation.
Examples of food crises under the industrial-capitalist system are abundant. One can look at the current tortilla price hike in Mexico, where the demand for biofuel corn has caused the prices of tortillas to skyrocket, making a staple food unaffordable. Another good example is the depression of the 1930s, where unsustainable agriculture caused dust storms, causing soil erosion and destroying the fertility of the farm. This, coupled with the economic collapse, resulted in food shortages.
You can also join FedUp by adding your existing garden to the network, joining us for workshops in various food preservation methods (and future garden-related workshops), and pooling your crop with our community's harvest. Another option for those of you already gardening: If you find a lot of your vegetables go to waste, why not donate them to FedUp? We will be giving all extra food to various community food banks.
If you desire to become a gardener but do not have the land (or possibly feel that you don't have the skills), join us in transforming donated land to garden sites. We will be keeping a list of donated plots of land, so if you'd like to be added to that list, we will facilitate the gardening, maintenance and harvesting of that land once we have enough gardeners to do it.
We hope to change the way society acquires and distributes its food, and we hope you'll join us.
[first published in the Scoop, July 2007]
The Gardens...Malden Rd. (the south-east corner of Malden Rd. and Lambton) has presented us with many challenges (like deer, rabbits and a very dry summer), but continues to bring joy to its gardeners.
The Ecohouse (793 Sunset Ave.) provides us with an outdoor space amid a garden that has been tended with care, for our weekly pot- lucks, meetings, and discussions.
Moy St. took lots of digging by FedUp's â€˜head digger' and others, and has reciprocated with lots of produce.