Sometimes (although admittedly less and less) when I talk to people regarding the power of urban agriculture to transform the local economy of Garland and other cities across the USA, I get the deer in the headlights expression in their eyes. And some still don't understand the direct connection between a locally-based agricultural system and the potential prosperity and food security for a local area and its people.
Those of us who are founding Loving Garland Green do understand and embrace the power to grow our local economy with local agriculture. One of our stated goals is to ensure that at least 50,000 people in Garland are growing crops in their homes--whether in pots or in their yards--by the end of 2014. We hope to track and introduce these people and their gardens on our website. Not only will the Garland Community Garden and Urban Agricultural Center furnish fresh food for distribution in our community, it will also serve as a living example to help citizens build gardens in their own yards, patios and decks. We want to grow Garland into the city with the most urban gardens per person in the nation. We want to make urban gardens one of the reasons why people want to live in our city. Our mission is to engage our residents to help us make this dream a reality.
A perfect example of local agricultural power is Enset, the Ethiopian or false banana. Enset is a locally domesticated staple food crop that grows in the moist highlands of southwestern Ethiopia.
According to Christensen Fund's editor, the starchy stem of the plant is consumed, but the entire plant is used for everything from roofing packaging to cultural ceremony. Enset also grows well intercropped with other cash crops such as coffee.
Dr. Tadesse Kippie, one of the experts and major cheerleaders for this crop is featured in the video below:
For more on the topic of Enset:
So what is Garland's equivalent of Enset?
I'm not entirely certain at this point because I've not done extensive research on the topic. However, it could be bamboo. We have creeks running all over our municipality and along these creeks we have large lush bamboo forests. We could build on this natural potential.
I've written on the potential for bamboo to strengthen our local economy in prior posts.
From Iflizwerequeen: "We have groves of bamboo growing along the banks of creeks all over Garland and the proposed location for our Garland Community Garden is no exception. Again with just the slightest bit of promotion, we have a built in natural product to sell to the public as a fund raiser for our garden. Volunteers can harvest some of the leaves from the bamboo, and package them to sell as bamboo tea. Many believe that bamboo tea promotes improved health. Again, with just a little marketing and promotion this could be another great fund raiser. However, if we became more serious as bamboo urban farmers, bamboo could be harvested for many other purposes. Hemp is the only other plant that rivals bamboo for 1) its fast growth rate and 2) its versatility as a base for hundreds of other types of products."