As many of you are aware I recently took a trip to Ghana to explore the Urban Agriculture scene in the city of Accra. Accra is the capital of Ghana and many areas are densely populated. Urban Agriculture accounts for more than half of the food produced and consumed in Accra.
My interest in Urban Agriculture had led me to a group known as RUAF. When I found out about the work they were doing in Accra, I signed on with Amizade, a volunteer organization who set me up with a host family and placed me with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. During my stay I accompanied their officers to various urban agriculture sites around the city. I was able to speak with several farmers and volunteer with them.
The goal of my trip was to observe not only urban agriculture but to examine how local governments interacted with urban growers. A few years back GtC struggled to hold on to land being put up for auction by the city of Springfield. So I wanted to learn how local governments could work more effectively with community groups like ours.
But land insecurity is not a new issue for urban growers. As I mentioned in an earlier post, urban land in most areas, is currently not zoned for agricultural purposes. Urban growers either find themselves on the fringes or altogether blocked out. Access to land and land security are important issues in the development of urban agriculture. Increased policy support for urban farms and gardens could lead to increased ecological urban design as cities are designed with zoning for green and “growing” spaces.
Many of the farmers in Accra faced not only land insecurity but issues in accessing safe water for irrigation. With the help of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly-Ministry of Food and Agriculture and many others, these farmers were learning how to organize, advocate, and increase their efforts.
My trip to Ghana allowed me to witness all of these things coming together and experience what it meant to build a movement and create change.