The recent Everyday Gardener column about the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and food forests was a platform for political propaganda that was also an unpaid ad for a candidate for political office (“Speak out for urban food forests,” April 20). It was a political polemic meant to subvert and disenfranchise the process of public engagement for someone’s political gain.
For me it is not about whether a food forest is a good idea or not, but that we are being asked to circumvent any process that does not start with one group’s conclusion.
There is a very public conversation about the flooding issues at the Hiawatha Golf Course and the amount of water that is needed for the current uses (link to public meeting recap). This process is completely misrepresented by columnist Meleah Maynard.
I greatly appreciate advocacy for urban ecology that enhances our connection to nature, and that has been a significant part of the process for what happens in the future at the Hiawatha Golf Course. My work at the Park Board included our first planting of fruit and nut trees for park users. There have been some interesting efforts recently with public orchards, urban agriculture and the concept of food forests. Maynard has every right to express her views about plants or politics, but the spreading of compost should be limited to gardening.
There is almost nothing in the article about the Park Board process that is not an exaggeration of actual facts or that is helpful in understanding the complexity of the choices that are being discussed at public meetings or the validity of the viewpoints of the hundreds of people that are actively involved in these discussions.
There are many interesting ideas for what could happen if the golf course is not feasible in the future, including a food forest. I think it is important for commissioners to not prejudge or predetermine the outcome of our public engagement processes. But I would note that if we follow our current urban agriculture policies, we would need to decentralize the planting of fruit and nut trees and edible plants and locate them in racially concentrated areas of poverty and areas of need rather than one central location that many people would have to drive to.
District 3 Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioner