Spring is around the corner. Text it, tweet it, pin it… grow it?
Since the creation of the world wide web in 1990, there have been countless technological advancements. As technological innovation propagated connectivity amongst people and information, it also promoted a renaissance in the tradition of Urban Farming.
Before the internet and technological boom, urban farming was not on many people’s radar and was disregarded as a means to an end for feeding dense city centres during economic duress. According to Five Borough Farms,
“Modern urban agriculture can be defined as growing fruits, herbs, and vegetables and raising animals in cities, a process that is accompanied by many other complementary activities such as processing and distributing food, collecting and reusing food waste and rainwater, and educating, organizing, and employing local residents. Urban agriculture is integrated in individual urban communities and neighbourhoods, as well as in the ways that cities function and are managed, including municipal policies, plans, and budgets.”
Vancouver, BC is one of the leading urban farming communities. According to Councilwoman, Andrea Reimer, “the number of community garden plots on city, school and park board land has more than doubled to over 4,000 in 104 locations in the past four years. There are now at least 19 urban farms, including Yummy Yards.” With the combination of the rising cost of produce, the alarming amount of chemicals and hormones infused into food, the environmental crisis and the explosion of technological advancement, urban farming not only can help us by:
nourishing a healthier city centre
fostering a sense of community
reducing an urban ecological footprint
According to The Greensgrow Urban Farm, the internet was one of the major contributing factors to their success in urban agriculture endeavours. “When we started there was no real social media. There wasn’t even a GOOGLE. Finding information was difficult, finding fellow urban farmers even more so. In the years since Greensgrow has incorporated a great deal of social media and used the web to research so many things. People who would never have found us have found and come visit us-people from around the world. We use social media to tell our story, build our resources research our ideas and gain support. So I think we grew up alongside the internet in some ways.”
Today, urban farms are taking full advantage of social media platforms. With social vehicles such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest, awareness of urban farming has flourished and product popularity has grown exponentially. Urban farms are spreading agricultural knowledge by planting seeds in the minds of urbanites to get them involved with creating a more sustainable city environment. Volunteer participation and new course offerings have expanded dramatically through online forums and education that have not been available before. Newly minted apps to aid rookie urban farmers such as, ‘Sprout-It’ and ‘Urban Farming Assistant’ and are popping up for mobile devices and online communities.
It is a funny juxtaposition: farming and tweeting, but when navigating through the countless websites dedicated to urban gardening, Pinterest boards dedicated to growing an edible patio garden, event forums dedicated to participating in urban homesteads, and Blogspot posts on how to get involved in urban agriculture. It seems natural.
@UrbanFarmingGuys have 16,961 followers
@UrbanGardens have 30,001 followers,
@UrbanLandInstitute have 59,104 followers.
People now have resources about starting up an edible apartment garden or a patio grow-op. Leda from ‘The Urban Homestead’ in Pasadena, which is a family operated and highly productive city farm, said, “social media has been a huge boost to my urban homesteading.” She was adamant about the following:
It is way to promote classes, articles, and books on the subject,
It’s also as a way to find out what questions people are asking – what information to provide them
Most importantly, social media has connected her with fellow urban homesteaders she would not have met otherwise.
“I met Brooklyn beekeeper turned New Jersey farmer Megan Paska via twitter, and hired her to teach beekeeping and organic vegetable gardening at the NY Botanical Garden. Another twitter introduction was chef Jeremy Umansky. Facebook connected me with BK Swappers, where I bring my preserved foods and trade them – it’s fascinating to see what others are making and I often find inspiration there that I translate into recipes and how-to’s for my preservation site.”
The managers at Earthworks Urban Farm in Detroit said, “by following, retweeting and contributing, Earthworks has created multiple networks of influence that share common threads of interests all around the world. In short, social media has helped us distinguish Earthworks as a reliable source of news on food justice and other related topics by helping build our online identity and relationships with others.” They found that cleverly articulated tweets also help cut through the fat of the internet and connect with people in a meaningful way. In some ways, twitter has been helpful in organizing around social events and issues too.
Now that’s something to tweet about.