|All photos © Michael Hanson. Above: Paul Glowaski, the director of the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz, CA, stands in a field at sunset.|
People have always grown food in urban spaces—on windowsills and sidewalks, and in backyards and neighborhood parks—but today, urban farmers are leading an environmental and social movement with intent to transform our national food system. To explore this agricultural renaissance, brothers David and Michael Hanson and urban farmer Edwin Marty document twelve successful urban farm programs, from an alternative school for girls in Detroit, to a backyard food swap in New Orleans, to a restaurant supply garden on a rooftop in Brooklyn. Each essay offers practical advice for budding farmers, such as composting and keeping livestock in the city, decontaminating toxic soil, even changing zoning laws.
For seven weeks, David, Michael, and videographer, Charlie Hoxie, traveled the country in a short school bus powered by veggie grease (and a minivan after too many breakdowns delayed the production). The trio slept in empty lots overlooking the Pacific Ocean, mall parking lots, and alongside the very farms they were documenting.The images and stories to come out of these farms show that America’s urban landscape is rich with opportunity for fresh local food. Hanson’s book, Breaking Through Concrete : Building an Urban Farm Revival, published by University of California Press, was recently released.
-courtesy Michael Hanson.
Father Luke Nguyen and the Mary Queen of Vietnam Church were the catalyst for the development of backyard gardens that helped resurrect the predominately Vietnamese Versailles community of East New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Mary Seton Corboy, the director of the Greensgrow Farm in Philadelphia, tends to her bees. Initially, Mary kept bees to deter intruders from entering the farm. Now she has hundreds of CSA members throughout the Philadelphia area and provides produce for restaurants, community members and the farmer’s market.
Children eat mango at the Garden at Westerly Creek Park in Denver, CO. Refugees from countries including Bhoutan, Somolia, and Sudan gather at this community farm where they now grow a city block’s worth of produce.
Annie Novak at Eagle Street rooftop garden in Brooklyn, NY. Her farm provides produce for a CSA, local restaurants, and a farmer’s market.