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Urban farming will bring long-term benefits to city

It doesn’t take a genius to see that vacant lots are a blight on this and other American cities. Not only are they ugly havens for drugs and crime, but they act like megaphones alerting communities of their decay while shouting at outsiders to steer clear. Many vacant lots are privately owned, making them seemingly inaccessible to rehabilitation. But owners of these lots are not evil; they simply do not have the money or the impetus to develop anything worthwhile.

The city needs to intervene. One solution is to farm these eyesores. Urban farming promotes health and community well-being across the board. On March 15, Chicago unveiled a new initiative called Farmers For Chicago that will make available up to five acres of vacant lots for urban farming activity, and help expand the supply chain for local neighborhood-level food production and wholesale. Urban farming brings communities directly in contact with their food, while teaching invaluable lessons in nutrition and agriculture.

Urban farming is nothing new to Buffalo. The city already has multiple successful urban farms like the Massachusetts Avenue Project on the West Side and the Wilson Street Urban Farm on the East Side. These organizations encourage community participation in farming, while providing affordable access to nutritious food. This success should be celebrated and expanded. Still, the city should take more of a leading role by purchasing lots for farm conversion, assisting in the development planning or, at least, subsidizing the initial planting.

Since urban farming has an expensive initial overhead, Buffalo will need to scale down the acreage compared to a city like Chicago. Still, the city should experiment with a few prototypes to see what the long-term costs and benefits of farming are to a community and the city at large.

Adam Faeth

Buffalo