It may sound improbable, but with a little creativity and a willingness to bend the rules, an abandoned schoolyard in Ohio can produce hundreds of pounds of homegrown vegetables per week.
That’s a story Mark Winne tells in his latest book, Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart Cookin’ Mamas: Fighting Back in an Age of Industrial Agriculture, as featured in an article about guerilla gardening in USA Today’s spring supplement. It’s the story of Maurice Small, a Cleveland man Winne chose as one of his titular “food rebels” because he’s started over 500 gardens in abandoned lots in his area. Many such guerilla gardens simply aim to beautify blighted spaces, but Small’s question is, “If you’re ready to plant something beautiful, you have to ask yourself, ‘Can people eat this?’”
Small is one of many local food heroes profiled in Winne’s Food Rebels, and one of many inspiring stories of community members across the country taking the good food movement into their own hands. “Food is something we can do something about,” Winne explains, and “people are beginning to call the shots in their own communities. People are beginning to take action. They’re beginning to say to themselves, hey, I don’t have to rely on this industrial model of food production forever.”
And Mark Winne knows something about that. He was among the first Food and Community Fellows in 2002, but his expertise in community food security has been a cornerstone of the movement long before and since.
Winne is currently based in New Mexico and is also the author of 2008’s Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty.