Imagine this if you will: You stop in a neighborhood on your way home from work and buy fresh vegetables and eggs from a small backyard market garden. You continue on to buy some fresh apples and herbs a few blocks away. Then you top it off with a fresh bouquet of flowers from your neighbor’s urban flower farm.
Seem a little farfetched? You can’t really do this, can you? Nobody farms like that.
Don’t say that to members of the newly formed Spokane Urban Agriculture Network. The group formed over the winter to create a support network and give a voice to organizations and individuals growing food in backyards, open city lots and community gardens in the region. Its goal is to create a way that backyard gardeners, market gardeners, urban livestock keepers and community gardeners can stay in touch, share resources and advocate for farm-friendly urban food policies.
To introduce the community to its efforts, the group will host its inaugural Spring Fling from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 13th Avenue and South Cowley Street near St. John’s Cathedral. The community is invited to meet some of the many groups in Spokane that are already involved in growing or harvesting food from backyards, empty city lots and community gardens.
A highlight of the event will be a display by the Spokane Urban Goat Keepers Association of some of the small livestock that can legally be kept in the city. The group, along with WSU Spokane County Extension’s Urban Agriculture Program, will have information about how to become certified to keep small goats, pigs and sheep in the city.
The Spokane Community Garden Association and Catholic Charities Food For All Program will have vegetable starts available for people currently involved with a local community garden. The group will also have information about how to join or start a community garden.
The Edible Tree Project will have members there to talk about their fruit gleaning project and how you can register your backyard fruit trees for gleaning when the fruit is ripe. The group also provides workshops and pruning demonstrations on fruit tree care through the year.
The WSU Spokane County Master Gardeners and the Food Preservation Program will have an information table to answer gardening and food preservation questions and share upcoming education classes.
Several urban market gardeners will be present to talk about growing vegetables, fruit and flowers in small, reclaimed spaces. Information also will be available on Spokane’s Urban Market Garden ordinances, which allow homeowners to grow and market produce from their backyard gardens in the city.
The Spokane Urban Agriculture Network is being formed under the auspices of a grant through the Spokane Conservation District and the National Association of Conservation Districts. The conservation district partnered with WSU Extension to raise awareness of how expanding urban agriculture can both increase access to fresh, healthy food in urban areas and strengthen conservation efforts to protect the water quality and soil health in and around the Spokane River.
Voices columnist Pat Munts has gardened in Spokane Valley for over 35 years, and also is co-author of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook” with Susan Mulvihill. Reach Munts at email@example.com.
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