Sunday, November 23, 2008

Farming in the city

(painting by David Schulz)


I was at a brainstorming session, yesterday, with members of the ArtFarm advisory board. It was a great meeting, with a diverse cross section of opinionated people with creative and practical ideas.

The mayor was at the meeting, as was fellow Eye correspondent, fishmuscle. Of course, one of the topics was real estate, and the need for ArtFarm to find a permanent home. In addition, fishmuscle, and I were talking about urban chickens, harvest and hobby farms.

The mayor mentioned that the city has purchased the development rights to a number of farms in order to keep them from real estate development, and to preserve them as farms, or open space. It seems like a partnership between the city and ArtFarm could be mutually beneficial, and something our city planners and economic development proponents might see as a boon to Middletown, and a step in the right direction toward a green future.

But it also got me thinking about the economic hard times we are now experiencing, and will continue to experience for the next several month (if we're lucky enough that the recession doesn't last for years).

With all this Middletown farmland standing fallow, I'm beginning to think that it might be a good idea to pursue a program whereby some of this land is brought back into production for the common good. Towns like West Hartford, with a lot less available agricultural land, have a great program of community gardens. That could be one approach. But maybe Middletown ought to be more ambitious.

Imagine a town farm operation which would become a model farm - raising locally grown produce using green and organic principles, and maybe animals, which could then be sold commercially (such locally-produced agricultural products are in high demand), or be used to feed those who will need help in the next couple of years. It would take some money, of course, but it could be commercially viable, create some jobs, and certainly be a model for sustainability.

If we had a farm like this, and another where Shakespeare, leeks and chickens enjoyed mutual coexistence, imagine how much more progressive this little burgh would be.


Anonymous said...

what a great idea

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone has seen the town-owned farm in Narragansett, Rhode Island. It is on property owned by the city and managed by the residents of a home also located on the property. I would like to see Middletown do something like that.

We also need to talk about urban chickens and amending our public health regulations to accommodate a few hens on a half-acre or more parcel.