One day in 2008, during a spontaneous conversation about the need for local food gardens in Fort Collins, a group of friends planted the seed of a big idea:
Can local, sustainable, community agriculture promote increased food security, poverty relief, and environmental justice?
Over the next few weeks, conversations grew into meetings that sprouted other ideas: CSAs for low-income families, multiple community gardens, an education center with food preservation classes, shared gardening tools and seeds, kids’ summer programs in agriculture, and so on. More ideas emerged at each subsequent meeting and finally coalesced into a formal organization - The Growing Project. Today, TGP is a group of volunteers dedicated to improving food security in Larimer County through hands-on education and local food production. In February 2009, TGP became a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Much of what drove that initial conversation was a desire to increase awareness of how alienated most city-dwellers have become from the people who grow our food and the places our food is grown...an awareness of how dependent we have become on the corporate food industry to fulfill our most basic need to eat. Less than 1% of people in the United States claim farming as their primary occupation, while the rest of us have over the last 60+ years lost more and more knowledge about growing, preparing, and preserving our own food. TGP wants to take back this knowledge and spread that seed into every bit of unused or potentially re-purposed bit of land that we can find.
Plants cannot grow without roots and neither can culture. The roots of a cooperative and place-based community lie at the bottom of the social structure with the least mobile population, the aged and the poor. This population will prove to be our strongest asset in carrying on the knowledge needed to build a solid local food system and thriving local economy. Importing food security is not our only option! It is already here, in low-income neighborhoods, at the food bank, in seed packets, in the soil, on the street, in the suburbs and in the inner city. We need only to water it, nurture it, care for it. The harvest will come, though if we don't tend to these issues today, we are not likely to see that harvest in our generation or the next....
To learn more about the issues surrounding the local food paradox, food security, and resistance education visit the food. people. justice. page.