Organic Consumers Association

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Breaking Through the Myths: New Book Seeks to Redefine Urban Farming

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Breaking The Chains page and our Farm Issues page.
In 2010, Grist ran a series of posts chronicling a road trip across American by a team of young men looking to document our nation's urban farms for a book called Breaking Through Concrete (you can see a list of the posts over on the right of the page). Sponsored in part by WHYHunger, David Hanson (writer), Michael Hanson (photographer), Charles Hoxie (videographer), and Edwin Marty (farmer and writer) drove across the country in a biodiesel-fueled, internet-enabled short bus.

This month, the book, Breaking Through Concrete: Building an Urban Farm Revival, finally hits the shelves. To mark the occasion, we caught up with David Hanson to get the lowdown on the book and hear his observations about this moment in urban farming.

Q. Which came first: the book deal or the road trip across the country to document urban farms?

A. We wrote a book proposal and got a deal with University of California Press. We had the idea long before then, but the deal was what sent us on the road trip.

We wanted to make a book celebrating urban farms - and not some sort of doomsday, "we're all going to die because we're eating bad food" kind of thing. There's some truth to that, but we wanted to make it a real celebration and kind of glorify those great projects that are addressing the problems [in our food system].

We also wanted to debunk the myth of the urban farm as either a random vacant lot run by one or two people or some yuppie hobby garden. We wanted to show that there's a wide variety of urban farms meeting a lot of needs in their communities beyond just growing food.
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