03/08/10 — To garden or not to garden in city, that will be the mayor's question

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To garden or not to garden in city, that will be the mayor's question

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 8, 2010 1:46 PM

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Will Allen, left, talks with Wayne County Commissioner J.D. Evans about sustainable agriculture following a speech at Goldsboro High School in November. Allen, a MacArthur "Genius Award," recipient, is one of the nation's foremost proponents of urban agriculture. His holistic farming techniques incorporate both cultivating produce and creating food distribution networks for urban dwellers. The Goldsboro City Council will hold a public hearing to determine interest in community gardens on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

More than four months after a lecture at Goldsboro High School got city officials thinking more seriously about the concept of urban farming, Mayor Al King and members of the City Council will host a public meeting -- scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the City Hall Annex's second-floor conference room -- to determine whether or not there is significant interest in the expansion of local community garden projects.

Public Utilities director Karen Brashear told council members in early November that she had been researching the idea of a community garden since before MacArthur "Genius Award" recipient Will Allen spoke in Goldsboro Nov. 9.

But hearing Allen, in person, call for a "food revolution" renewed her desire to bring his work to life in Wayne County.

Allen's "revolution," he told those who attended the lecture, is one that addresses unhealthy eating habits, children with diabetes and inaccessible, unaffordable food.

"Our food system is in serious crisis," he said then. "Everybody has the right to good food and we used to eat good food in this country on a regular basis. ... We have to go back to those days. We knew the farmers. We knew the food. ... We grew some of it ourselves in our own back yards."

And thanks, mostly, to that message, Goldsboro residents might soon know those days again.

King has been outspoken about Allen's success and his "model" farm in Milwaukee -- a vibrant two-acre operation that provides produce for local restaurants and residents -- and said he believes that through partnerships with local universities, including North Carolina State, and existing community garden projects like Dillard Academy's school farm, the Wayne County Public Library's garden and county Health Department's Mini Mobile Farmers Market, Goldsboro could follow Allen's example.

"This is in its infancy now, but it has tremendous potential," the mayor said in November. "This is something that really excites me."

All residents who might be interested in implementing a community garden project in Goldsboro are asked to attend Thursday's meeting.

Those who have input but will be unable to attend are asked to contact Mrs. Brashear at 735-3329, ext. 101, or e-mail her at brashear@ci.goldsboro.nc.us