A new report on the energy expended from food waste from the University of Texas, states, “The energy embedded in wasted food represents approximately 2% of annual energy consumption in the United States.”
As consumers across the United States are becoming aware of the need to cut consumer consumption, and make better choices, many feel that there is little they can do to change the way we get our food, produce it, and choose it.
The study from the University of Texas points out how important this aspect of sustainable living is.
An emerging group in Fort Wayne, Indiana is working to bring together the assets that the community has already laid in place.
Fort Wayne Urban Gardening has a unique mission in this part of the United States. That is to bring together those in northeast Indiana who have been working on community and urban gardening/ agriculture under one umbrella, to work towards healthy living.
As the creator of the Green ABC’s for Kids, I am excited about this new venture. Most importantly, I am interested in their concentration on schools and children. Teaching kids at an early age about sustainable practices, in local food development, alternative transportation, and energy savings, clean water preservation, and natural habitats is the core of the Green ABC’s program and I wanted to find out all I could about this new exploration into the growing local food movement in my area.
The following is a result of the interview I focused on with Nick Arnett, acting director of Fort Wayne Urban Gardening.
ABS) What was the initial spark that made you and your group decide to form?
Nick Arnett) A city-wide urban gardening organization was an idea that I and a co-worker had thrown around for some time in office at the beginning of the summer ‘” was a program like that really feasible in Fort Wayne? Is there enough interest to support such a program on a large-scale basis? These were the kind of questions we bounced back and forth while we played around with the idea.
After doing some research and looking at similar organizations throughout the country (such as City Slicker Farms, Growing Power, Urban Farming, etc.), I decided to start bouncing the idea off some community members and began forming a group. We officially began meeting in July, and have met on a monthly basis since then (we will be formalizing our board in October).
ABS) What is your mission? What programs are you going to form?
NA) Fort Wayne Urban Gardening exists to promote healthy living by supporting and encouraging urban agriculture efforts in northeast Indiana. We do this by using gardens as tools for four main purposes: education, poverty reduction, economic / site development, and community beautification. Gardens involved in our organization must contribute to these goals in one way or another.
We understand that there are plenty of already established programs, gardens, and initiatives in the area that deal with urban agriculture. As we began to meet throughout the summer, we shifted our focus from being just a city-wide urban gardening program to being an organization that serves as the uniting / supporting body for urban agriculture efforts in the Fort Wayne area.
We want to support these existing efforts and use them to encourage the development of new initiatives. The primary way that already established programs and gardens can become involved with FWUG is through our garden-affiliation program. Gardens who become affiliated with our organization will have access to resources, volunteers, equipment / education assistance, and other helpful incentives.
In exchange, FWUG will require some branding (example: a sign with our logo saying “This is a Fort Wayne Urban Gardening affiliated garden,” or something of the like), and requirements for the affiliation must be met. Requirements will be set for community involvement, garden management, and production (our Standards committee will be working on these requirements over the next few months).
In addition to our affiliation program, we will also reach out to the community through various other means. By partnering with related organizations and corporations, we hope to host educational workshops open to the community that will help interested individuals learn basic gardening skills, effective gardening techniques, and things of like. In addition, we hope to host a series of events that will focus on urban gardening, food produce, and healthy living.
ABS) Will you be working throughout the complete Fort Wayne area, – have you already begun work on setting up community gardens, or urban gardens anywhere in the city?
NA) I can’t say exactly where we’re going to work yet ‘” everything is still on the drawing board. However, I can say that we plan to work on a community-wide basis with a focus on the southeast side of Fort Wayne. We are currently working with a few local organizations to possibly take over a few already established gardens, and will be looking for neighborhood or community groups to manage them. As I stated before, the main component of our operations will be our garden-affiliation program, which will allow already established programs and gardens to affiliate themselves with FWUG.
ABS) Who are the major players in your organization?
NA) (I can’t say exactly who the major individuals will be, since we haven’t yet formalized our board)
We plan to work with many local poverty-relief, economic development, and educational organizations, as well as churches, community groups, and other nonprofits. Keeping connected with the community will be key as we enter our initial year!
ABS) What are your concrete goals for the future?
NA) I can’t say what “concrete” goals we have for the future; plans will be constantly evolving as our organization develops over the next few years. However, we hope to see an increase in urban agriculture efforts throughout the area, as well as community involvement in these efforts. Most of all, we’re excited to see what the future holds and the possibilities that could evolve from it!
One of the most difficult obstacles in obtaining local foods and being a locovore (one who only eats food produced within 100 miles of their home) is being able to find a good amount of fresh foods grown in season. This is central to an obstacle that Fort Wayne Urban Gardening will face.
Looks like they are on the right track!