This is how Buffalo urban farmer Dan Ash explains it: “Pirate is a word that embodies resistance, and for farmer pirates that means resistance to the current industrial food system. We’re opting out by growing our own food.”
It was just a couple years ago that a family who wanted to use city-owned property on Buffalo’s East Side had to explain what urban farming was all about to the powers-that-be. Now, that farm is an established component in a network of urban farms, including the recent purchase of 30 vacant East Side lots. Their Kickstarter campaign—which ends this week—aims toward the purchase of a truck for the group, so they can collect compostable food waste from all over the city and make all that vacant land produce food. Two of the member farms already have small CSA programs going, adding to the many existing CSA options from WNY’s considerable rural acreage. It’s even been suggested that Buffalo is now a leader in the urban farming movement.
I’ll be honest. This is not my personal thing. My neighborhood is characterized mainly by front and back yard ornamental gardens—there isn’t even a community vegetable garden within fifteen blocks or so. (I wish there was a common sunny spot where I could grow some tomatoes and beans.) But the use of East Side property left vacant by demolitions and population shrinkage for urban farming is a very sensible solution. As the charming video above—made by my friend, media artist Dorothea Braemer—makes perfectly clear.