Friday, June 1, 2012

Food Security Solutions -think vertical

I started thinking about the food sustainability problem lately and how we would be able to solve it.   Everyone seems to consume food like it will be around forever.   What if the farmers stopped farming because the older generation that have been carrying forward all the farming practices and family farms start dying off and nobody wants to carry it on because they can't make enough money to support the farms?  Then what?  Do you want to eat all Genetically modified foods in the future?  I don't.   We need to start thinking about solutions and figure out a way to support the farmers.  Without food there is no life.  It's that simple.

I have been reading a lot of articles and talking to a lot of people about the eco systems in working on my documentary Eco Losers and have been trying to think of solutions instead of just stating the problems.   Problems without solutions go nowhere.

One of the things I saw recently at the Petits Chefs Academy in Vaughan was this Vertical Garden Tower.  while I was there filming a little for the Documentary and also there as one of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Ambassadors to film the event for a video.   Denise the owner is also a food revolution ambassador and was hosting a kids cooking class for Food Revolution Day.  I noticed the vertical tower and she said that she just started distributing them.   I thought it was interesting but didn't connect much to it until I started thinking about growing plants on my balcony.   I live in an apartment and don't have enough light on my balcony to grown the herbs I would like to grow like Basil and Cilantro and in my travels around while working on the documentary I saw a community garden and started thinking about the community garden concept.    I  am certainly no gardener and don't have much of a green thumb and don't have the energy or time it would take to maintain a community garden and with living in a very dense apartment/condo neighbourhood I thought there probably isn't the proper space in the area to create a community garden anyway.   In thinking of a bunch of issues and gathering all the problems and solutions for a bunch of eco problems I thought the best solution would be to have mandatory rooftop gardens in every apartment or condo building.   What if we had government mandate that any new building permit for a new condo had to have a minimum area for a community garden or a green roof.    What if there were incentives for already existing buildings to convert spaces for condo/apartment community gardens?   What if the top floor of every building was converted to a CSA (community supported agriculture) garden where everyone in the building would receive an allotment of the harvest from that garden.   What if it was run like a coop and if you participated in maintaing the garden you would receive the allotment or if you were a senior or had a disability or just didn't want to participate in maintaining it you could contribute financially and pay a fee so that someone else could maintain it for you.

If drug dealers can turn houses into grow ops then why can't we convert apartments into Green Gardens that can feed the residents of the buildings?   You say it will never happen... but why not think about finding a way to make it work?  If we don't do anything we won't be around to make these decisions anyway.  

Can you imagine how much farm land it would take to feed all the condos in downtown Toronto?  What if every condo had a vertical garden tower in the building that could provide fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to the residents instead?

Remember how life started, everyone had a house and a farm to grow their food or if they didn't have a farm they traded services to the farmer in their community to get their food.   But the point is that it was in their community.   People didn't get food from another country.   We need to start thinking about independent community gardens that are self sustaining and can be maintained under any circumstance.

Wouldn't you love to have a beautiful green rooftop garden in your condo or apartment to go to and breathe clean air and see nature.  Recent studies have shown that being in nature is extremely good for your health.  What I really noticed when I was working downtown was that I was really missing trees and nature.  The concrete jungle on a hot summer day isn't where you want to sit and have your lunch.   A nice tree shaded bench is more like it.

While I don't have the power to make these changes on my own, maybe you do.   What if city bylaws were changed to make these changes mandatory?   What if building owners received incentives to make changes to their buildings to include a green space?   What if balconies could be equipped with vertical garden towers?

I don't know if any of this can happen or how to make it all happen but I think it's worth thinking about and maybe working towards.  If someone like Donald Trump all of a sudden decided that all his properties would become Green imagine the power of that change.   What if Trump tower in Toronto had a green roof that provided all the food to all of the guests at Trump Tower?   Imagine how many trucks wouldn't have to drive to downtown Toronto to deliver food.  

If you think we don't have to think about reducing the amount of transport trucks driving our food across the world to provide food for us then think about the weather that is happening in the world these days.  In Toronto alone we hit record breaking temperatures in May.   My birthday is in May and I have never seen my birthday be as warm as it was this year.   While I like the warm weather I wonder what it is doing to the planet and whether it's going to get to the point where everywhere in the world is over 100 degrees or more everyday.  What will happen then?   You think I am exaggerating.. well have you seen An Inconvenient Truth? Al Gore's Documentary.  The planet is shifting and things are changing and at the current rate of population growth and the over abundance of destruction of the rainforests and oil dependence we are changing the way our planet functions.   There will come a point where it's irreversible.

If you have the power to do something to reverse the problem then I think you need to do what you can.  Right now I don't have a lot of financial power but I have the power to inform and think about ideas for change and hope that someone reading this can take my suggestions and push the changes forward.

I am not a political person at all but from all the people I have been speaking with in connection to my documentary I see the need to do something.   If everyone did something....anything... then together a difference can be made.

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