By Tracie McMillan
Saveur • February 2009
The distance from farm to table in American cities is getting shorter. In parks, in vacant lots and even on the grounds of abandoned factories, urban gardens and farms are growing better food than their commercial counterparts and bringing fresh produce to lower-income neighborhoods where markets are often scarce. In Milwaukee, for instance, an organization called Growing Power, established in 1993 but the former pro basketball player Will Allen created a two-acre urban farm whose organic produce is as popular with the community as it is with the city’s chefs. (Allen was awarded a MacArthur “genius grant” for his efforts in 2008.) In Detroit, the Garden Resource Program has turned vacant lots into over 100 gardens, where local residents grow spinach, garlic and more. Farms are also popping up in cities where cheap real estate is scarce. In Brooklyn, New York, the Red Hook Community Farm supplies a Community Supported Agriculture club from its three acres, and in Boston, the Food Project has encouraged official to incorporate food gardens into community development plans. The dividend for these urban communities? Better access to fresh food, and a sure path to delicious meals.