by Terry Nother
A “ Hub” represents a central effective activity point that facilitates the inflow and outflow of all aspirations. The Hub embodies a supporting role in building and nurturing, making each effort stronger and more refined. It provides guidance, knowledge, and resources, as well as a team approach to various projects and processes. A Hub fulfills a desire to expand with a certainty of success, common agenda and visionary focus.
A Hub for Urban Agriculture London effectively brings all common groups together for a multifaceted and diverse expressions, albeit with a single purpose. The location of a Hub should facilitate full expression and demonstrate suitability for growth. In the case of Urban Agriculture London, the physical facility must demonstrate excellence in meeting the goals and aspirations of the members. The membership comprises of families and individuals, likely in the form of a co-operative .
The Hub location of Urban Agriculture London requires sufficient arable land to
grow nutrient dense foods and plants. The location offers the opportunity to build and erect greenhouses, incorporating sustainable technologies, expanding growing techniques, warehousing and storage, food preservation operations, teaching and
educating members, resources for community based gardens for seeds and plants, food security and emergency response capability and local employment.
There are several locations in our City that meets the initial criteria. One prominent location stretches from Dundas Street to Oxford Street, along the East side of Highbury Ave. This location offers multiple advantages with bus/bike routes, ample parking, logistical proximity to Fanshawe College and Canada Agriculture Research Centre on Sanford Street, North America Trade Schools, concrete pads for greenhouses, forested and grassland areas for food forests, a railway spur, The Salvation Children's Village, extensive gardening growing area, uncontaminated fallowed land, plus several buildings which offer potential living accommodations for people of different socio-economic background (e.g. immigrant families, people who are experiencing homelessness, etc), as well as space for institutional and commercial activity. In addition, there is no industrial influences to restrict agricultural activities. The current zoning of this land is geared towards residential and this use is compatible with Urban Agricultural activities, including animal husbandry.
This land is owned by Canadians, and is under the control of the Department of Defence, Ontario Ministry of Health and City of London. The transfer of this land for the permanent use of Urban Agriculture London requires a strong representation. The initial steps needed to complete this presentation is the formation of a membership base. The commitment required for participatory membership is a financial fee as well as assigned volunteering input. This monetary fee is a one-time cost and is estimated to be $1000.00 The goal is to offer and build a membership base of 1000 plus families. In return it is expected that food share programs will recover this initial fee many times over.
Once membership goals have been defined and initiated, the positive aspects of developing this Hub can be formulated. These aspects fall into areas of food security, knowledge based shared training, social engagement for cultural diversity, collaborative engagement with London's various environmental groups such as Friends of Urban Agriculture London, Community Gardens London, Middlesex London Master Gardeners, Council of Canadians, Land Trust, London Environmental Network, ReForest London, etc.
The Hub offers opportunities to introduce common activities and strengthen communities. Building local community gardens and home gardens, along with providing plants for their own local gardens. In addition sustainable activities like composting can be facilitated in every community. Bike paths, green spaces, public transport, and car sharing can be promoted and organized. The voice of the people will have a strong presence in deciding the growth of the City.
There are many ideas and developments to be discussed and integrated to establish a vision, a process and an action plan. Timing is upon us to determine how we can set in motion a causation that unfolds in to the reality we chose today.
One can only imagine what the scene could look like in 5 years. A fully engaged Hub with multiple activities. Happy owners coming and going with baskets of nutrient dense foods. Healthier families and visitors. Training for gardeners, composting facilities, animal husbandry, young and old engaged with each other in building a sustainable future. Conferences organized to build relationships all over the world. Resources to hedge against any emergency and abundance to share with less fortunate. First Nations folks hand in hand in each and every effort. Tourists visiting and bringing all manner of endeavours. London, a Teacher to the World, a respite to all who aspire common goals, a model of neighbourliness.