Note: If you are a local farmer or gardener or know anyone who would be willing to comment on local food security options, please feel free to get in touch or share your comments below!
Recently, local green thumb Sean Moyle called for greater support of Caymanian agriculture. A number of Caymanian households grow local favourites like mangoes and breadfruit, while others experiment with other crops and growing practices. Not to mention certain businesses like The Brasserie and Michael’s Genuine make a pretty penny whilst embodying farm to table practices. That being said, there’s still room to grow. Today we discuss inspiring methods of increasing local food security and the viable benefits it provides to the community.
By eating local, we are able to invest in local farmers but could also decrease import and refrigeration costs for local supermarkets. Even better, they could work hand in hand to create something really remarkable. In the UK, Food From the Sky utilizes permaculture techniques to farm fruits, vegetables, and flowers on the roof of Thorton’s Bugdens supermarket. Whatever produce is not sold and would otherwise go to waste is instead mulched to be reused as compost for the garden. Rinse and repeat.
Similarly, Gotham Greens in New York has two rooftop green house facilities in Brooklyn and two more planned for Jamaica, NY. The first operation is over 15,000 ft2 and produces over 100 tons of fresh produce every year. Their latest facility, in partnership with Whole Foods, is the first commercial scale greenhouse farm integrated into a supermarket. It expects to produce over 200 tons of produce a year and is accompanied by an advanced renewable energy and irrigation system to showcase advances in agriculture and sustainable design.
There are, however, other means of garnering the same effects utilizing simpler methods. A number of grassroots organisations have been able to provide members of the community, primarily the youth, with work experience, a healthier environment, and contributed to the food security of vulnerable locales. The Food Project in Massachusetts works with a number of volunteers and teenagers to provide affordable, organic produce for sale and donation to those in need from their urban gardens. Quite similarly in Brooklyn, the Added Value organisation strives to grow a ‘just food system’, empower local youth and provide practical education and long-term work experience.
What these organisations have managed to accomplish, outside of increased local and urban food production, was their ability to enhance a sense of community. By fostering a relationship between producers and consumers, they were also able to promote projects that were of a social value. Each brought innovative business and economic value to impoverished locations, and have worked to revitalize these areas. This sense of fraternity has been recognized as contributing to social enhancement. It provides increased employment and educational opportunities in a harsh economic climate and provides something of permanent value to the community at large. However, they have also demonstrated that under less than ideal circumstances and even in troubled neighbourhoods, members of the community can lessen their own day-to-day burdens. For one, the young that are employed by these groups are thus provided valuable skills and healthy social alternatives. Without relying on government intervention or massive private investments, locals are able to provide for their own basic needs and wellbeing.
When we begin to examine where we are as a country in terms of our expensive reliance on imports, the lack of diversity within our economy, our deteriorating health and social security, we need to ask ourselves what it is we can do to change that. We live in an age where we have numerous options available to us, and although habits are hard to break, we should at least be open to alternatives that provide lasting solutions.
The discussion of the importance of food security to the sustainable development of small island developing states will be discussed later as a part of a new informative series. To see the first article from this series, go here.