“It is, in every way, in the best interest of urban consumers to be surrounded by productive land, well farmed and well maintained by thriving farm families in thriving farm communities.”
-- Wendell Berry
We're so grateful for the openness of the community at Warehouse 242 in Charlotte, NC to build a pilot aquaponics project. Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system.
This is a living community garden designed to educate, inspire, and expand imagination about what is and what could be. Community gardening, urban farming, food-ops, aquaponics, and hydroponics are examples of how neighbors can work together toward friendship, health, trauma care, diversity, creativity, sustainability, food justice, and food priority areas.
More recently, the garden is now in partnership with Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary and Ienate Consulting as a shared experience of mutuality and friendship. Our shared goal is to reduce costs where possible as a small effort toward curbing commercial displacement. We were also grateful to partner with Restore 525 as H.S. students designed and built green house tops to increase our capacity to grow herbs for local teas year round. Our hope is that the aquaponics garden will continue to offer opportunities for inspiration, education, and imagination in CLT and beyond. We're learning that the essence of farming is healing and restorative while bringing people together across many lines, and we're often reminded how crucial it is that we are aware of how our food is grown, honor the farmers and immigrant communities who harvest the food we purchase, and stand alongside those who are suffering. Years ago in Atlanta we saw many neighbors come together on our block through a shared garden, growing vegetables, cultivating the earth together, building new friendships. And we think of a dear friend and leader in Chicago where we lived on the West Side. At that time, her food truck was not only a way of sustaining economically, her food truck parked in our church parking lot was a community hub in the hot summer months, a space for neighbors to build new relationships and learn together. Food is powerful.
There are so many examples of food justice around the country and globally. From Atlanta's Urban Recipe or South Atlanta's Carver Market to Detroit or Milwaukee, there are many models of urban farming, food co-ops, and empowering ways of turning the narrative from food insecure toward what Mr. Bernard Singleton calls, "Food Priority Areas." In Charlotte, NC - here are a few resources as we learn along the way: