This blog is written by GCG Founder & CEO, Jessie Banhazl
I can’t believe it’s HERE! On Sept 9th, I will be arriving in Berlin for the first stop of my Eisenhower Fellowship journey. For 5 weeks, I will be travelling through Germany, Sweden, and France to learn more about how other countries approach urban farming. I am so thankful for this amazing opportunity, and I hope to that you all can learn along with me as I go. Here is a little more information about my fellowship goals:
I am seeking to understand the mechanisms that will lead to urban agriculture becoming a sustainable, robust industry in the US. There is huge potential for urban farming to become a sizable industry that could fuel the creation of jobs, address the obesity epidemic through providing healthier food options to Americans, grow food in a more environmentally sustainable way, and to change the culture around how urban spaces are used to best serve the residents. By learning how other countries have successfully integrated urban ag. in to their cultures, I hope to be able to identify ways the US can be more successful at making urban farming a legitimate and sustainable business sector.
I believe that through public-private partnerships, municipal support, and strong business trade alliances, the urban farming industry can grow significantly. Advocacy to require new construction to have building features such as rooftop farms and green roofs have been proven successful in other countries- what will it take to make this a reality throughout the US? Funding opportunities, accelerator programs, and other forms of business support can also be successful in providing the needed resources for urban farming businesses to thrive.
I am hoping that all organizations providing urban farming services will benefit from my project. Whether or not the project solidifies as a trade alliance for urban farming services companies, an advocacy group to lobby for urban ag. legislation, or another way of providing resources to our industry, I envision the scope to include all entities within the business sector in the US and ideally these resources can be used internationally.
Urban farming has the potential to provide significant social impact and good in the communities it serves. By approaching urban farming through a business lens, I am hoping to prove that it is a legitimate endeavor that deserves funding, resources, and a seat at the table in conversations around urban development. Urban farming can engage participants in social justice, sustainable food production, community engagement, education, and health. Proving that businesses can be profitable while also serving the greater good is a huge motivation for me and this project.
I have high hopes for my trip, I hope you all will follow along with me along the journey. Stay tuned as I depart in a few days, I will be blogging weekly. Now, off to PACK!