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Really O’k News for Traverse City: Good Food Gardens are Growing

Yesterday, February 27th, we accepted an opportunity presented to us, for a one day merging of our local, Urban Farming Collective mission with that of a global-wide “Occupy our Food Supply” event.

I was inspired through my O’k CSA desires to expand on the need to do something about bringing more folks into the wonderful world of growing our own food and doing so, by learning and applying the ways of permaculture.

Connecting to the larger “Occupy our Food Supply” action along with support of Little Artshram and the Urban Farming Collective, we staged a day-long event, calling it a “GOOD FOOD FIGHT for our FUTURE” throughout Traverse City. From 8:30 am until 9:00 pm with a BIG map, over good coffee and great food, we began tagging places that can transform our town into a plethora of food growing landscapes—asking folks who happened in and questioned our red-table clothed display, to join us in learning more about growing our food locally, taking a pledge with food producing plants and reclaim our food supply! This was a daylong event, beginning at French’s Famous and it was not only great fun but also a very good way to take positive action and turn around some of the corporate control dominating our access to good, healthy food.

This opportunity came up quickly and we had to move fast, and with an already established structure to the UFC we were able to send out notifications and invitations to participate or meet/greet via email and good ole’ Facebook, to Traverse City residents and neighborhood organizations to join us in sharing their ideas. At each of our set up a welcoming information table and met dozens of folks with great ideas and interest for initiating and mapping out a network of green spaces, publicly and privately owned that could become a community or neighborhood gardens. We invited folks to tell us about their gardens, past and present, and any information that they may have in order to map out MORE Community and Neighborhood Gardens in TC. We “occupied” some of TC’s favorite and awesome coffee shops and eateries, and, we thank our hosts and friends that welcomed us: French’s Famous, The Brew, Old Town Coffee Shop, Slabtown Burgers, Higher Grounds, Thai Cafe.

At 5:30 we ended up back at The Brew for a final, group gathering for any and all neighborhoods with our scribbled and garden tagged map of both current and potential allotment and community garden sites, as well as, wished for sites in all of the existing and a few new TC neighborhoods. A nice sized group looked over notes collected during the day, with tidbits about a potentially, large-sized community garden going in across from Thirlby Field and a lively discussion began with a focus on three questions: “Why are we doing this?” and “What’s the next step?” and “How do we reach out and get more folks involved?”

In response to why we are wishing to grow more community and neighborhood gardens:
-Historically, communities were centered around growing, harvesting, preparation and the sharing of food. This is an incentive to not only focus on local food, but also building a deeper, resilent, caring community.
-There is an imperative, with climate chaos and energy descent to build a stronger, local food “sheds” and have a food security plan that is not dependent on outside energy sources.
-With 14,000 residents + in Traverse City, we are concerned that there be a food system organized, embracing the principal of relative location, to meet the needs of apartment dwellers, folks with tree-shaded home-places, the homeless and the elderly
-Continued education and skill-building for children, youth and college-age students, as well as adults in gardening and permaculture practices, CELEBRATING COMMUNITY, providing for our needs and living a lower energy lifestyle.

What’s the next step?
-Invitation to the community and neighborhood organizations to the March 10th event (info listed below) “HOW-to: FOOD & OUR FUTURE in Traverse City”
-Compile notes and the map and contact the City of Tc to share our findings.
-Ask the broader community what they want. Create a survey to ask general questions/feedback about what folks need in their neighborhoods (site specific kinds of concerns: water/fences/neighbors) and also what they want to learn (basic growing/planting/tending), what kind of garden: allotment, community, property to share or give to gardeners to grow food.
-Share new and fresh ideas, without reinventing the wheel or limiting organizational structures already in place.
-Welcome and respect neighborhoods and gardens already working on plans, sharing a collaborative invitation to grow the local food movement.
-Allow systems to emerge, don’t impose.
-Reconnect with the UFC and Little Artshram’s offerings for networking and organizational support of policy, procedure, insurance needs, as well as, sponsoring workshops, programs, events: www.littleartshram.org
-Reconnect with other local, like-minded organizations offering resources, information and possibly garden growing spaces, like: TCAPS, Cherryland Coop, TCLP, Oryana, Transition Traverse City, Occupy TC, NMEAC, Grand Traverse Conservancy, MLUI and the Food and Farming Network, Father Fred Foundation and Goodwill.
-Share “yard-sharing” groups and urban growing information: http://www.urbanfood.org/research/inventory AND: http://hyperlocavore.ning.com/group/traversecitymi
-Set up a booth at the Grand Traverse Commons Village Market on Saturdays, sharing information and keeping the dialogue going.
-Begin a seed-saving project, focusing on adaptable seeds, relative to our local soil.
-Identify public fruit trees and other edible fruits….consider the news from Seattle: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/02/21/its-not-fairytale-seattle-build-nations-first-food-forest#.T0aNsx6wWM8.facebook
-Create a summer outdoor theater venue, show films in yards/gardens/front lawn of Building #50 @ the Village of GT Commons
-Offer Introduction to Permaculture and Urban Farming workshops, Edible Forest Gardening, and Permaculture Design Courses….at affordable prices or free to participants in need.
-Work collaboratively to secure membership/sponsorships/supporters via greenbacks, donations, Bay Bucks and Time-Bank our sweat equity.
-Find our local media supporters and be ready with our info sharing on our local food growing movement.

Now we are inviting folks to bring their neighbors and friends, and please join us at a gathering in two weeks, which answers our “How to reach out and get more folks involved” question:

“HOW-to: FOOD & OUR FUTURE in Traverse City” is an event offered through the Continual University Series, to benefit the UFC and will offer an opportunity to gather folks in a fun and valuable community-wide project, helping build neighborhood food growing alliances, facilitated by Samantha Tengelitsch and Christopher Graves of the Central Neighborhood.
Sat. 3/10, Cogs Creek Studios/Tribalive, Traverse City, 124 N. Maple St., 6-8pm: A general public gathering with information tables and community garden sign-up, facilitated discussion, on how to increase individual, family and neighborhood resilience through food security. The UFC will focus on connecting schools, churches, students, and garden mentors with community garden sponsors and business sponsors, local leaders and organizations for a community food-growing resilience project. Local food production will be a topic of this event, and we hope to have local food co-ops and CSAs represented.

The Urban Farming Collective (UFC), a project of Little Artshram, extends a warm welcome and invitation for Traverse City residents and organizations to join us on this Saturday, March 10th, event from 6-8 pm. This is an annual, and special spring event kicking-off the garden growing season in the Traverse City area, for:

  • Community garden info. sharing and sign-up–featuring any of the established and new gardens in Traverse City; including meeting/greeting neighborhood and community garden organizations;
  • Special 30-minute film showing of “Getting Real about Food and the Future” by the late Christopher Bedford.

The UFC with the help of the “occupy” event has launched a 2012 gardening program and network of community and neighborhood garden sites. We are committed to working collectively. The UFC offers community garden forums, workshops, how-to and start-up information gathered from local, regional and statewide community garden groups, as well as the American Community Gardening Association. Little Artshram, a Traverse City based non-profit, offers assistance to UFC members with liability insurance for gardens, collective fundraising and grantwriting opportunities, along with establishing necessary policy and procedures; opening up an opportunity to create a city-wide garden-growing timeline and action plan in 2012.

A representative from your organization would be incredibly helpful at this event as “target specific corollaries between new community gardening groups and the event”. Please let us know if someone will be able to attend the March 10th event. Thank you for the consideration, and don’t hesitate to respond with questions or clarifications.

More about the Urban Farming Collective, a project of Little Artshram: Do you currently have a Community Garden in Traverse City, or, would you like to begin one in your neighborhood? Are you a chicken farmer, a bee-keeper, a front or back yard gardener, a seed-saver, a soil-manager? Join us and help grow the TC urban farming and gardening movement!

The Urban Farming Collective has worked to create a Traverse City based network to meet the growing needs and interest in urban farming and the building of a local food system, while encouraging a lower energy lifestyle.

Join the Urban Farming Collective (UFC) and a growing group of wonderful folks, and contribute your good ideas to create a citizen-based, local food system for all. The UFC is collectively organized, offering information about potential and new Community Garden sites, workshops, programs and events, as we continue to deepen our permaculture roots, socializing in our yards and neighborhood gardens, eating good food and encouraging a local economy!

If you want to find out why I’ve joined the UFC, or find out more information about it, you can reach me through this blog, or at: [email protected]