In a formerly unused lot in East Sacramento, seeds of a food revolution are beginning to take root. Tilled rows of soil cover about a quarter-acre of land in an open field between homes, a Universal Unitary Church and a public school. It’s what’s called an urban farm.
“What you see here is going to develop into Freedom City,” explained program coordinator Neal Liggins as we sat in folding chairs on the farm’s scrubby turf. “It’ll combine the urban farming installation that’s already underway with a community center for events and seminars.”
We’re discussing one branch of Freedom Developments, a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 to cultivate and distribute healthy organic foods to low-income Sacramento families. The organization is headed by a board of advisors and managed by coordinators like Liggins but the real energy behind the project comes from volunteers.
Located only 13 miles from Davis, Freedom Developments is a local expression of agrarian activism that you can get involved in right away. It’s a free and welcoming atmosphere and there are no demands on any volunteers.
“Just being here makes a hell of a difference,” Liggins said. “Even if you just spend 30 minutes cracking jokes, you’ve added something. And you’ll be tempted to come back, whatever your learning curve is.“
Trust me, it’s worth getting involved. Cooperatives like Freedom Developments are part of a greater movement to break away from the instabilities of the American economic system that creates shortage in times of crisis.
“Oppression is about dependence, so the nature of activism is all about not being dependent,” Liggins said. “Don’t cry about something you’re not getting from someone else.”
For the avatars of avarice at the top of society’s pyramid, crashing is business as usual. If greed mongers like Citigroup ever feel a chill, they can burn taxpayer bailout money to buy a new $30 million private jet. “What we’ve got going on at the wealthy end of society, in the upper layers, is socialism,” Liggins said.
But where will everyone else turn? For the working classes that will be the hardest hit, this economic downturn represents a hardship. 2.6 million jobs have disappeared and every day homes are worth less and food costs are higher. When safety nets fail, as they often do when they’re invisible, people will have to turn elsewhere than their government to get the necessities of life. So we turn to each other. Social capital is becoming more and more important during an economic cataclysm that threatens to steal bread right off of our tables.
Urban farming is a social mechanism that works to keep all of us happy and healthy through the power of cooperation. You can be in the vanguard to ensure the welfare your fellow Americans. Get involved, here or elsewhere.
“We’re looking for interest and student involvement. All help is welcome,” Liggins said.
More funding for programs like Freedom Developments will hopefully be seen under the relatively wiser leadership of the Obama administration. Freedom Developments Project Manager Corey Cliff stressed that social capital is more reliable, “Sure, there’ll be more things available, but they’ll be more people fighting for crumbs.… We don’t want to see competition, we want to see cooperation.“
Freedom Developments encompasses Freedom City, as mentioned above, and also plans to include a variety of other services. Freedom Farmers would send volunteers to set up vegetable planter boxes in client’s homes, then tend to the plants, harvest them when they’re mature and then buy them from the client. Plans for Freedom Energy and Freedom Transportation are also in the works. Each one of these programs follows what’s called in FD parlance the ‘CHEF system,‘ which sets their goals: clothe, house, educate and feed.
At present, Freedom Developments is in a nascent stage. According to their business plan, Freedom City has evolved from purely functional to an active one. It’s not yet sustainable, which means its formula isn’t yet fit for duplication onto other sites. “Active“ means the first harvests are coming in, so $5 bags of homegrown greens are available from Freedom City, profits all going to directly help the project along.
If this article has tempted you to get involved, I’m reachable at email@example.com for more information, or you can contact Freedom Developments directly through Corey Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mention I sent you.