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Farming in the City: Joys of Growing Food

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, from | For many years, people in American cities have depended on farmers in rural areas to grow fruits and vegetables. But now a new generation of farmers is planting crops in urban areas. Sean Conroe is a college student. Amber Banks is a teacher. They both grew up farming and gardening. Sean Conroe and Amber Banks wanted to start a farm in the middle of Seattle, Washington. Amber Banks says: "There are a lot of neighborhoods that don't have access to healthy, fresh produce. And if they do, it can be very expensive. So we see unused space as a great place to grow food that will make it more accessible for people."Sean Conroe created a website to get volunteers and donations. Within a week, they were offered a plot of land between two houses. He says twenty volunteers worked for six weekends to turn the grassy land into a farm. They call their project Alleycat Acres. He says they are growing spinach, onions, radish, lettuce and chard that are ready to be harvested. There are also carrots, green onions, peas, beans and turnips. And they are growing broccoli, tomatillos, cucumbers and strawberries. The Alleycats have harvested about ninety kilograms of produce so far. They have donated most of it to local food banks that feed hungry people in Seattle. Bridget Barni was sitting in the dirt picking lettuce. She is one of eighty people who are volunteering at this urban farm. Like a lot of the volunteers, she does not have much gardening experience. One of the goals of the urban farm is to show city people the joys of growing food. The Alleycats invite school groups to the farm to help out. And Amber Banks says they want the same people who get food donations to learn how to work the soil. Sean Conroe says Alleycat Acres is expanding to other areas of Seattle. He says his group would like to expand as much as possible where there is empty land that has good sunlight, access to water and a community supporting the project.Seattle has declared two thousand ten "The Year of Urban Agriculture." But the growth of these farms is limited. That is because Seattle, like a lot of other cities, has restrictions on urban farms. The City Council is now considering changing those laws. And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report. Support came from the Park Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation and the Great Lakes Fishery Trust. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 06Jul2010)
Length: 03:57


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