April 22 2013

Addressing Food Security in Urban Settings: Twin Cities, Minnesota

With the continuing onset of urbanization, urban poverty continues to grow and so does the importance of food security. The subsequent response to this emerging problem has been the emergence of community gardening and locally produced foods for many city-dwellers. In addition, with increased urbanization comes the issue of poor and unsanitary living conditions and lack of fresh produce, as well as the lack of knowledge for many youth groups who are unfamiliar with the concept of where fresh produce comes from or how it is grown. Therefore, the key in addressing food challenges of tomorrow is to educate the younger generation today on the concept of growing their own food via community gardening and other environmental programs.

This brings us to the question of: what exactly are the Twin Cities of Minnesota doing to address the challenges of food security?

For one, there are numerous training courses offered free of charge to the public. The University of Minnesota Extension Programm, along with the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, provides Vegetable Gardening Basics classes to the anyone who is interested. The five-week program teaches groups of different ages about how to start your own garden, planting vegetables one-by-one, designing your garden, and maintaining your garden. The program works in conjunction with the Hennepin County Master Gardeners, who “bring research-based horticultural information to the Hennepin County community through adult and youth educational activities.”

Children's Community Garden

The local governmental agency, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, has designated a piece of land in one of the regional parks, Theodore Wirth for the JD Rivers’ Children’s Garden, to provide programs focused on the youth, horticulture therapy, and intergenerational programming for recent immigrants. Children learn the basics of planting, composting, and maintaining a variety of vegetables, flowers, and fruit, which they are able to take home to continue the process of home gardening. The leftover produce is donated to a local food shelf.

JD Rivers Children's Garden

Another initiative has been the Homegrown program, established in 2010, which offers garden plots to non-profit organizations where community gardens can be used for individual plots or communal projects. A Sustainability Plan was conducted in order to address and identify the process of comprehensively meeting the needs of all community gardens. As a result, the Twin Cities Greening Coalition (TCGC) identified over 200 community gardens in the Twin Cities metro area.

What will it take to feed a growing urban population, and what can local governments do to turn towards innovation in order to address future challenges of food security and sustainability?

Credits: Images by Jasna Hadzic. Data linked to sources.

Jasna Hadzic

Born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but having spent most of her adult life in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.; Jasna Hadzic has been greatly influenced by both cultures, most specifically in terms of architecture, planning, and design. The transition of living in a small European pedestrian-oriented city to a large and vehicle-oriented American city greatly influenced her interest in the field of planning. She came to appreciate the vibrant, culturally diverse and faster-pace of life, while also looking toward her native city as a paradigm of sustainable living with traditional architecture, multi-modal transportation systems, and pedestrian-friendly spaces and streets. A recent Master’s graduate in Community and Regional Planning and G.I.S from Iowa State University, Jasna’s Thesis focused on the analysis of the built environment and demographic factors that influence physical activity, while examining street connectivity and infrastructure. In addition, Jasna holds a B.E.D. in Environmental Design, with a minor in Urban Studies, from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Her most recent work experience as a Planning Research Assistant at the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, as well as volunteer work with the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has exposed her to new city projects, as well as community engagement. Her career goal is to not only work directly on sustainable urban design projects, but to also ensure equitable and sustainable planning practices.

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 22nd, 2013 at 9:55 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Education and Careers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “Addressing Food Security in Urban Settings: Twin Cities, Minnesota”

  1. Padraic Says:

    Nice to see the progress in other countries. CSA’s are a great way to have local food security but they are limited to the local area in which it is situated. Having many CSAs is not always possible in an urban setting. Where space is limited rooftops farms are growing in popularity. Our own research has shown that overall the eco footprint and energy input into CSAs that deliver is far lower and more people benefit from local higher quality food. To increase efficiency try and deliver the food on pedal electric trikes.Also include all food producers,don’t limit it to veg.Local food consumed by local people is real food security, the days of long fossil fuel dependant food chains are slowly dwindling.It also increases job opportunity locally.

  2. Farewell From Jasna Hadzic and Minneapolis, Minnesota | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    […] way by examining the different facets of transportation, land use, economic development, sustainability, et cetera, and through the application of old values that were once written about. Tied into this […]

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