11/20/09 — City officials pondering urban agriculture idea

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City officials pondering urban agriculture idea

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 20, 2009 1:46 PM

A lecture held earlier this month at Goldsboro High School has city officials thinking more seriously about the concept of urban farming.

Public Utilities director Karen Brashear told City Council members Monday that she has been researching the idea since before MacArthur "Genius Award" recipient Will Allen spoke in Goldsboro Nov. 9.

But hearing Allen, in person, call for a "food revolution" renewed her desire to bring his work to life in Wayne County.

"What he's doing is a tremendous help to people in that area," Mrs. Brashear said of Allen's two-acre farm in Milwaukee, Wis. "And he's not doing it for recognition. He's doing it to provide healthy food to certain populations."

It's an undertaking, she added, that could work in Goldsboro, as groups like the Wayne Food Initiative, which supports Dillard Academy's school farm, the Wayne County Public Library's garden and county Health Department's Mini Mobile Farmers Market, already exist.

Mayor Al King encouraged Mrs. Brashear to continue to research the idea and to move forward with plans to create a committee dedicated to the urban farming cause.

"This is in its infancy now, but it has tremendous potential," he said.

Mrs. Brashear intends to have her group formed by the end of the month and once it meets, committee members will look to the public -- through questionnaires and forums -- for a more widespread opinion on the feasibility of urban farming in the area.

"This could have such a broad impact," she said.

King agreed.

"This is something that really excites me," he said. "So we'll be working on it."

That news would likely please Allen, who told those hundreds of schoolchildren it's time to go back to the way farming worked decades ago.

"Everybody has the right to good food and we used to eat good food in this country on a regular basis," he said Nov. 9. "We have to go back to those days (where) we knew the farmers, we knew the food. ... We grew some of it ourselves in our own back yards."