On Tuesday, Sarah and I had been wandering through Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood for several minutes before I asked her where we were actually going.
“This guy Bruce emailed me and said he didn’t know how, but he was sure that what he was doing was related to what we are doing,” she answered. “He’s gardening on his roof, but he’s giving it away, and I think there’s more to it than that.”
Michael Pollen recently argued in a New York Times piece called “Why Bother?” that growing your own food is worth it, and that it represents the kind of behavior change that will be necessary to make a dent in “The Big Problem.”
GLUE is posited on another answer to that question – collaboration leads to progress and sharing information makes sense. As an incurable, if infrequent, outrage fatigue sufferer (aren’t we all at least sometimes?), the local food solution is comfortingly concrete.
Bruce Fields and Co. are growing nutrient-rich food cheaply, abundantly and efficiently on their rooftops. To say that he is an evangelist for this concept is an understatement. To say that we don’t have enough urban problem-solving evangelists is also an understatement.
OK – so these produce lots of good produce in a small amount of space. Bruce’s model takes time to make that many working families simply do not have, particularly in the low income communities where affordable fruit and vegetables are most needed.
Pre-made “Earthboxes,” at $50 a pop, are prohibitively expensive for some, but a time-saver for would-be gardeners ready to shell out the cash.
Could high school science classes produce them?
Could the government subsidize them, a la Montreal?