I’ve heard some questions raised lately about Raleigh City Farm. Some ask whether our model is very replicable. They also wonder whether we are doing enough to engage with the rest of the region’s farms. Good questions. I don’t know.
What I do know is that an estimated 15,000 people pass by the intersection of Franklin and Blount each day. As they do, they see an unusual sight: lots of food being grown in the middle of the city.
Witnessing this simple act challenges some widespread assumptions they might be carrying, even if unconsciously. Maybe they thought food had to be grown in the country. Maybe they thought it took big expensive machines. Maybe they’ve never thought about where food comes from at all. Maybe they wonder for the first time ever, “Is that something I can do?” Challenging such assumptions is harder for farms further away to do.
Most people that come zipping around that corner don’t shop at the farmer’s market. They haven’t read The Omnivore’s Dilemma. You won’t find them visiting during the annual farm tour. But they do pass by Raleigh City Farm. Many of them pass by it five days a week.
Our job, first and foremost is to be there for them to see. To be there so that each time they see the farm some little thought about food and where it comes from forms in their minds. We hope this sight so rouses their agro-eco-comestible curiosity that they do start buying from and visiting all the other local farms that are doing good and honest work less conspicuously.
How replicable is Raleigh City Farm? I don’t know that either. But I suspect just about every city is better off with at least one farm growing food in highly visible places. Long term, our goal isn’t to replicate Raleigh City Farm anyway; it’s to make it obsolete. We want a future that doesn’t need us as we exist today — a future where local food and urban farming are entirely commonplace.