Recently Hilary Clinton was in the headlines over her concern for the global food shortage. “What does that have to do with a hat blog?” you might well ask. Well . . . hats and gardening and farming do go together. Farmers and gardeners historically were big hat wearers. Hats are almost a necessity because the sun shines on gardeners who work outdoors. I know a lot of US farming is now done by computerized watering machines and by farmers who ride across thousands of acres in air conditioned tinted glass tractors. But bringing back hats to urban farming could change all that. I will explain how.
First I need to explain that gardens and farms have an appeal that is more than primal. The appeal is to the wonder we have for life itself. They repeat a miracle of growth. Plants can grow from seeds into living organisms using just air, water and some soil. And the huge diversity of plants surprises once and again whenever you go out into nature (or see it on TV).
America is the fourth most populous country in the world, after China, India and somewhere else (please tell me, anyone who knows!). I personally spent three years living in China where I was amazed to see that, except in parts of a few cities, people are not growing lawns and the gardens are not filled with flowers. Instead food crops are planted right up to the walls of apartment buildings and houses! It is incredible, most everywhere you go people are farming between houses and buildings. (And wearing hats when they do, of course.)
Yet I have learned that in many cities in the United States it is actually illegal to farm. The law of the American cities say that you need to grow grass lawns around your houses and adjacent empty lots. I personally tried to purchase a lot from the city of Rochester, NY for a small tree farm and I was told by the government officials who researched the rules that I could not do it. It is against the zoning which requires grass and outlaws farms.
Just a few days ago a prize was awarded to a board member of the Urban Land Institute. After I’d asked her, I learned that she knew about these widespread laws prohibiting urban farms and that a group she had worked with had been prevented from even growing flowers in a mid west city (they did finally prevail in that instance after years of effort).
Hat makers around the United States must combine our efforts and rise up against the unreasonable government rules that were written in different times. In the past as farmers moved to cities, the cities wanted to look respectable. They thought they should restrict farmers to the countryside. Gasoline was cheap. Food was abundant. Cities were growing. It made sense. So city planners codified zoning rules that could be adopted easily by cities around America. And the cities did adopt those sensible rules for the time. No farmer and no crops are allowed. Grass instead.
We hat makers must work to eliminate the world wide food shortage by mobilizing local action to change these anti-farm rules. The first step is to subsidize the sale of farming hats to urban farmers who are willing to take action. Next, get Home Depot and Lowes to start stocking crops. The stores should be prevailed upon put up hat shaped signs in the lawn and grass sections that encourage the substitution of crops for grass in open rebellion against the local laws. The farmer’s hat should be the symbol of this movement.
Please tweet for a @urban-farmer-rebellion if you support this cause. We must organize locally using meetups and every person is welcome to participate.