Black entrepreneurs are the driving force behind urban farming in Boston | Letters

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‘In 2013, Klare Shaw and other prominent community members founded the Urban Farming Institute, which co-developed the ground-breaking zoning revision (Article 89) now used as a model nationwide,’ writes Dave Madan. Photograph: Bill Miles/Getty Images/Mint Images RF

Boston is more than our complicated history with racism, but your article on urban farming (Is Boston the next urban farming paradise?, 16 April) unintentionally perpetuates the image of a city stuck in the past, entirely ignoring the innovative black entrepreneurs who founded and lead Boston’s urban farming sector.

Boston’s most famous activist and former politician, Mel King, pioneered the movement in the 1970s, kickstarting growing food across the city and protecting small farmland statewide. In 2011, entrepreneur Glynn Lloyd’s farming enterprise, City Growers, lobbied for the legalization of urban agriculture and piloted the city’s first test farm.

In 2013, Klare Shaw and other prominent community members founded the Urban Farming Institute, which co-developed the ground-breaking zoning revision (Article 89) now used as a model nationwide, successfully advocated for $8m in urban agriculture infrastructure funding across Massachusetts, and organized the sector’s annual regional conference.

But the article makes zero mention of them, even though it does discuss the fruits of their work. Instead, the article features only white-led organizations and white individuals. Black entrepreneurs are the driving force behind urban farming in Boston today. Yet, they are not recognized here for it – perpetuating black invisibility, even when they are at the center of the story.
Dave Madan
Founding board member, Urban Farming Institute, Boston, Massachusetts

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