The Urban Farming Guys are a group of self-proclaimed “revolutionaries” made up of 20 families who decided to move from suburbia to the inner-city of Kansas City, MO to start a community urban farm and sustainable living experiment. The families all bought houses within a five block radius of one another, aiming to provide food to their neighborhood at an affordable price, reduce crime, create jobs, alleviate poverty and restore dignity to what is considered to be one of the most blighted neighborhoods in the city.
As their website explains, “We are the urban experiment. We are the seed that died and went into the ground…We are cultivating the life of the inner city. The police helicopter is our favorite bird. Neighborhood meetings are our drama. Dropping crime stats are our touchdown cheer. Just to see people walking their dogs around the block again is a sign of good things to come.”
The Urban Farming Guys have plans to record the whole process on video, posting recordings of their adventures once a week. The idea is that the videos will illustrate which projects work well, so that they may be reproduced by people all over the world who are interested in living more sustainably on a budget and in low-tech ways.
The projects will play out in three different phases, the first being to build a community garden, plant an orchard and attain more vacant lots for expansion. Next they will construct hoop houses, a water system, shed and begin raising chickens. Ultimately, they plan to assemble aquaculture greenhouses and start a Community Café.
Partnering with Rock Solid Urban Impact, they created a non profit 501(c)(3) that aspires to help urban youth gain hands-on work and life experience via training and mentorship programs. To that end, they recently bought an abandoned school with sights set on transforming it into a community space which provides afterschool, art, ESL classes, tutoring, media, music and micro business programs. So far they have obtained nine vacant lots behind the school at a cheap rate and plan to get their hands on several more to meet their ambitious goals.
From watching their “So What’s Next” video, it appears that the Urban Farming Guys are committed to engaging the surrounding community in a real and meaningful way. The involvement of local residents will no doubt help their community development efforts to be more successful.
For those interested in contributing to the cause, the Guys’ wish list includes lumber for raised beds, compost, a tiller, fruit trees, berry bushes, a shed, tools, and their “super wish” is a tractor/Bobcat and heavy duty mower. They are always in need of volunteers, whether it be for grant writing, web designing, gardening, or working with youth. They have an open house the second Saturday of every month so folks can come see the projects in action.
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