A Tale of Many Values: What Can We Learn from the Cities?
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With our three cities as background, we are ready for an attempt at constructing the urban farm. Let us review the chronology of creating the farm. We start with a vacant lot (or piece of public or private land that no one has any present plans for). We make sure of its legal availability, learning a great deal about civic government in the process, and getting to know some of the local civil servants. We test the soil to make sure it is free of contaminants, learning about soil science as we do it. We clear up the trash and dispose of it (this is not always easy; recall that to create the Intervale, Burlington volunteers and others had to clear upward of 1000 discarded tires and about 350 trashed cars). Already the place looks better, and those who want the farm there primarily to beautify the city are already happier. Even that amount of work will not get done unless many people are working on it; that group expands in the tedious work of pulling up the weeds and getting the soil ready for farming; already the neighbors are getting to know each other. To “familiarity with local government,” “Science 101” and “neighborhood beautification” we may add “the beginnings of cooperative community spirit,” as first fruits of the urban farm.