By Holly Mehl
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to create maps for a project I felt proud to help out with, the Urban Grown Farms and Gardens Tour in Kansas City. Every other June, Cultivate Kansas City hosts the tour, which showcases urban agriculture across the metro area via a full week of events. The organization’s mission is to be “a catalyst for the production and consumption of locally grown food in Kansas City neighborhoods.” This year’s event was the fifth biennial tour. Every tour has gotten better and every time more farms have joined in, showing a refreshing, tasty and sustainable trend happening in our area.
Cultivate Kansas City’s website is colorful and informative and is a feast for the visual senses, as you will see by going here.
Part of Cultivate Kansas City’s vision is to turn unused spaces into food producing farms and gardens, which not only provide sustainable, community engaged places to buy healthy food, but also beautifies neighborhoods by often redeveloping blighted areas. This is something I can get behind and I’ve already recommended that my church’s garden – from which vegetables are donated to local pantries – become a part of the tour in 2015.
EPA actively promotes Urban agriculture as part of our Brownfields program. Urban agriculture projects can help bind contaminants while providing further benefits to the property and surrounding community. An urban farm or community garden can improve the environment, reduce greenhouse emissions, and improve access to healthy, locally grown food. Other possible benefits include promoting health and physical activity, increasing community connections, and attracting economic activity. You can check out more by visiting EPA’s website, read our Interim Guidelines for Safe Gardening Practices.
The tour maps are no longer posted on the website since the tour is now over, but synopses and pictures of the tour’s farms and gardens are still highlighted there, as is a little video that uses the tour’s primary map as background.
Below is the map handed out to tour participants who arrived at any of the hub locations to buy tour tickets. Nearly 60 farms and gardens on the tour are shown in four different geographic areas called Veggie Zones. The vegetable symbols on the map represent the farm/garden locations.
This was a fun map to make, but even more fun was visiting these vibrant, beautiful places (run by vibrant and beautiful people), all of which help to make Kansas City’s future much more promising for all of us.
About the Author: Holly Mehl is an ecologist for EPA Region 7 who helps with water monitoring in the field and performs mapping for EPA Region 7’s program offices when in the office.