Is the Urban Farming Institute an Opportunity or Opportunistic???

Urban Gardening“Green” is the theme of the day as all across the country and like many other cities, Boston has been caught up in this “tidle-wave” and growth industry described as city farming.  Recently there was an unveiling of a new farm to be located in the Garrison-Trotter neighborhood of Roxbury, MA.  According to reports, many were present

for the “ground breaking,” including neighborhood residents, elected officials, etc.  It appears the plot will be owned by City Growers and managed by the Urban Farming Institute. City Fresh CEO and City Growers co-founder, Glynn Lloyd delivered comments that reflected the basic premise that fresh fruits and vegetables were purchased by local businesses 3000 miles away at a costly rate. Seemingly the idea being promoted by Lloyd was that locally grown and controlled products would be much more cost effective.

This mind set seemingly promotes the idea of a model wherein plots of land would be developed for urban farming and the Urban Farming Institute as manager would hire and train potential farmers who would eventually enter the world of being independent entrepreneurs. This is a very good concept if put into action as individuals would have a skill set that would allow them to be self-employed and provide for themselves and their family.

Apparently there was a great deal of back slapping and hand shaking at the “ground breaking” about the new farm spot and rightfully so. However, some key information has been excluded from the conversation. First of all, there was no mention of the fact that the Urban Farming Institute was born and bred at the Black Community Information Center Inc., which is located in Roxbury, MA.  Due to observing “farmers markets” controlled by whites in the Afrikan/Black areas in the City of Boston, we at the Black Community Information Center Inc. convened a meeting of urban farmers from our

community to develop a plan of action to establish our own “farmers markets.”  Glynn Lloyd was one of the invitees to the first meeting that was convened in 2012. approximately12-14 individuals were in attendance to come up with a viable working concept.  It was at that time that Glynn Lloyd approached me with the Urban Farming Institute concept, but confided “he did not have the people needed to launch it.” It seemed like a natural marriage by joining the concept and the people who were in attendance at the meeting. That was the beginning of the Urban Farming Institute!!! Meetings were held on a regular basis at the offices of the Black Community Information Center Inc., which are located in Imani House at 516 Warren Street in Roxbury. There was agreement to a “diverse” effort, but with a heavy emphasis on the program primarily benefiting the Afrikan/Black community. That aspect (Black oriented) was seemingly difficult for Mr. Lloyd to accept as it appeared that he was in fear of offending the white “massa” funders who are located downtown. Due to that division in the group, it was agreed that the Black Community Information Center Inc. and Urban Farming Institute would go our separate ways.

Let’s be very clear in that the “urban farming” concept in our community is excellent in its intent. The question is who does it benefit???  Will the effort stay on track and strive to meet its mandate to create independent community entrepreneurs in the world of urban farming?  Or on the other hand, is it just a tool to have indentured servant like, below minimum wage workers to toil in the soil and provide products for those in business who see it as a vehicle to reduce their overhead and increase their profit margin.  Let us hope that is not the case and only time will give us the answer.  In that regard, the Black Community Information Center Inc. will continue our quest to be a voice for our community and spearhead a spirit of independent thought and action. That is our mandate and we will continue on that path. We believe in the old adage of “do for self for ourselves!!!”

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