I read a great little story in the news yesterday about a 72 year old senior who is growing rice in an empty lot near his apartment building in Windsor. He has grown the rice as a test plot to see if it can thrive in Canada, using seed rice sent from his sister in China. Apparently the rice has had ideal conditions this year, enough heat and humidity, but water he needs to supplement by carrying down 6 plastic bottles of water from his apartment each day. He is going to harvest about 2 kg of rice this year, and will save it all as seed for a larger crop next year. He tidies up the garbage in the lot in exchange for being able to use the growing space.
This inspirational story reminded me of an amazing tiny 34 page book called Seedfolks. This book, written for children, tells the multiple stories of isolated individuals living in a large urban city (Cleveland, Ohio), who eventually forge relationships through a "guerilla" type community garden started by a young girl in a vacant overgrown lot. I have given many many copies of this book away to visitors and friends, as this is a wonderful story of hope and how to enact change by taking many small steps to build something large and powerful.
The rice growing story in Windsor also made me think of various important truths related to urban agriculture:
1) gardens don't have to be large to have a great impact
2) you are never too old (or young) to start gardening
3) starting a garden does not need a lot of money or capital, just ideas and commitment
4) there are abundant growing spaces in our cities, even if they might be unlikely ones, that should be utilized
5) sometimes it just takes some creativity, initiative and bravery to get a worthwhile project going
6) there is much to be learned from the diverse community members in our cities, taking the example of gardening many newcomers have often been farming/gardening in their home countries and have vast knowledge to share