Solutions for Self-Reliance

Edible Cities and Towns

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A little over 100 years ago, we lived amidst the food we ate.

Even the biggest cities on earth — London, New York, and Paris (in that order) — were surrounded by food production.

In fact, almost everything these multi-million resident cities consumed daily was produced within 7 miles of the city center and brought in by cart every day.

(Below:  street vendors in NYC circa 1900.)  

Street Vendors

Food was simply part of the landscape.  Here’s map of orchards around London in the 1890’s.  Note the number of orchards within the incorporated boundary (interactive map link).

Orchards London

Obviously, that’s changed.  Today’s cities and towns don’t produce much.  Even rural towns are surrounded by endless fields of inedible industrial fodder.

Instead, we are supplied with packaged, processed, and engineered food on a just-in-time basis, from handful of intensely productive spots — like the Central Valley of California.  

Of course, this “industry to fork” configuration is now proving insufficient for our future needs.  The solution is to return food to our built environment.  To infuse it with the productive value it now lacks.

A wide variety of ideas on how to get this done

One way is to plant micro-orchards in public/private spaces. A group currently doing that is the London Orchard project.  They team with local groups (any group that cares about their community will do) to plant micro-orchards.

fruit trees london

To get them launched, they provide them with the trees and some instruction on the care needed to get them to a productive age.

NOTE:  Resilient Strategists, the orcharding techniques we learned last month work well here to improve appeal, reduce maintenance costs/effort, and reduce the potential of nuisance.

There’s lots of ways to run a project like this.  In tight locations, trees could be planted individually.  Tree planting could be sponsored or adopted (which entails care) by individuals.

Of course, micro-urban-orchards run as a business are possible.  However, to do that, it’s necessary to focus on the “pick your own” experience instead of selling it as a commodity product.

Bringing that to the next level, the experience of “owning” a tree and harvesting it (with assist if necessary) might work very well in urban neighborhoods.

Keep Moving Forward,

JOHN ROBB

Heading out to do some foodscaping work….

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