Support for urban farming keeps growing in KC

Several hundred people showed up to share success stories and ideas at the Cultivate KC annual Farmers and Friends meeting on Saturday. The turnout is a symbol of the growing movement of people interested in growing, cooking with and support locally-produced food.

In 2005, 16 farmers sat in a tiny room discussing the future of urban farming in Kansas City.

That was the first Cultivate KC annual Farmers and Friends meeting.

Last weekend, the 2013 annual meeting drew almost 200 people.

Speakers joked that they know the movement is coming of age, because they now have business cards, websites and other evidence that their work is taken seriously.

Cultivate KC Executive Director Katherine Kelly welcomed the crowd to the meeting organized around promoting and supporting urban agriculture.

”This event draws people who want to dream big for Kansas City,” Kelly said.

While the first meeting drew farmers, Kelly said the urban farming movement is now attracting other people with similar interests.

“The movement is growing and becoming more diverse. Now we have farmers as well as schools, farm to market groups, gardeners, and chefs who are cooking with local ingredients.”

Sharing pie, indeed, builds community.

Those in attendance broke into groups to discuss topics from getting started with a neighborhood garden to starting a food business to the economics of urban agriculture. They also shared information on city codes on growing plants and raising livestock and chickens, starting school gardens and engaging the community about healthy food and nutrition.

One tradition remains in place as the annual meeting grows in size – participants are asked to bring homemade pies and pastries to share.