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Federal Urban Gardening Program

  • Subject: [cg] Federal Urban Gardening Program
  • From: "Libby J. Goldstein" <libby@igc.org>
  • Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 11:46:59 -0400

O.K. I guess I'm the only reservoir of institutional memory among us; 
although McCabe knows, too.

At the urging of Rep. Fred Richmond (D. NY), Congress put $150,000 
into the 1977 Extension budget as an ear-marked section 3b program 
for an Urban Gardening Program in 6 cities: NYC, Phila, Boston, 
Chicago, Houston and LA.

It was a really cheap way to get the urban congressional delegations 
to support the Farm Bill and most especially the Ag. appropriations 
packages. Even Jamie Whitten, the chair of the House (I think, maybe 
it was the Senate) Ag and Ag apprpriations committees loved tho he 
was no friend of cities, small farmers and so forth.

In 1978, the program was expanded to the 16 largest cities (one in each state).
It stayed at 16 for several years and remained a line-item budget 
item under title 3b. I think the Denver Congressional delegation may 
have brought the pressure to go to 23 cities.

However, many Extension directors were not fond of urban programs and 
of not having total control over the funds. (Actually, some of them 
thought that the staffs were a bunch of commies or something because 
we liked working in the city and doing what amounted to community 
organizing around a neutral issue like gardening and a not so neutral 
issue like food.)

In the late '80's, ostensibly to protect the program from being taken 
out of the budget every year and the resultant lobbying of urban 
delegations, gardeners, farmers (a few) and city administrations, the 
program was folded into general Extension funding...no more line 
item. Many Extension directors took the opportunity to gut the 
program and certainly to use the funds as they liked.

That's what I know. Hope it helps. For more information you might 
want to contact Craig S. Oliver <Craig_S_OLIVER@umail.umd.edu > who 
was the Assoc. Extension Director in charge of the Philadelphia 


				Philadelphia, PA

                        USDA zone 7A    Sunset zone 32

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