Urban Farming Techniques Will Be Taught at Local Food Summit

Jim Embry, Director, Bluegrass Food Summit

By Patrice K. Muhammad

 Across the United States, in urban cities in every state, people have returned to growing and raising food for themselves as a means of employment and or survival. All over the nation, Blacks have been at the forefront of the urban farming movement and Lexington is no exception.

Jim Embry has been educating people world wide and working to build gardens across the Bluegrass since 1968.

“My involvement with issues concerning food justice, healthy eating, and community gardening goes back a least to 1968 when after attending Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral and meeting Ernie Green of the Little Rock School Integration movement, I was offered a summer job to work in New York City,” Embry said. “It was there in Brooklyn that I was exposed to concepts that we now call food deserts and food justice.”

Embry will lead the 5th Annual Bluegrass Local Food Summit March 22-24 at Crestwood Christian Church 1882 Bellefonte Dr.

The Summit will attract local food growers, elected and government officials, educators, institutions and other community members to discuss the food system.

Local Blacks must attend this summit. Even if you do not consider yourself a gardener, farmer or food activist, there is much to learn and use during this event.

In 2008 Embry said in The Key Newsjournal that though Blacks have historically been victims of discrimination and physical abuse as a result of slavery one of the most damaging effects has been our disconnection from Mother Earth. “Africans have a strong earth connection and we must reconnect with that.”

Embry submitted the following when asked his most inspirational stories of Blacks involved in the new food movement:

“Well the life and legacy of our esteemed brother and most humble American scientist, Dr George W. Carver, is my most inspirational story about participation in urban or rural agriculture. All of the efforts that we see now for local food, organic food, biodiversity, biodiesel for automobiles, sacredness of nature, eating healthy, ALL of these directions of action and thinking is what Carver encouraged us to do. If only we had listened! Now even though he pointed the way for what we are doing now, he gets little if any credit for this good food movement.

“Now my other inspirational story is that of my friend, Will Allen who founded Growing Power in Milwaukee [more than] 20 years ago and regards himself as the George W. Carver of this century. I love this brother because he is so humble, not afraid to get his hands in worms and compost and yet can mix it up with the likes of President Obama and First Lady Michelle.”
However, not all Blacks are on board with urban farming or even concerned about their food. Embry said, “I feel that the major civil rights or human rights issue of our time revolves around the food system. This globalized, unhealthy and commodity-food based food system is what is killing us today. 80% of all human diseases is food related and African American are negatively impacted the most. So this should be an issue that is foremost in our minds but is is not. We should be in the leadership of what Will Allen calls the Good Food Revolution, but we are not! It is troublesome that we seem to have little concern for something that is so devastating to us a people.”

Embry is looking forward to welcoming more Blacks from Central Kentucky to the event this year. “Caring about food has spiritual, economic, cultural incentives,” explains Embry. “On a spiritual, Christian, Islamic and Jewish faiths have within  the sacred texts passages about humans being made from clay or dirt or what we call compost. Working to plant, grow, harvest, eat and compost is all spiritual work. Economically we can save money on food expenses by planting some of our own food. Culturally, we should regard our bodies as temples and should then consume the kinds of foods that  are deserving of being in a temple. Eating is an agricultural act. So since everyone eats then we should be concerned about our relationship with food. I encouraged our [community] in Central KY to get involved in the good food revolution, grow a garden and attend the Bluegrass Local Food Summit. This Summit will provide inspirational speakers, workshops on gardening, composting, films and much more.
Key Conversations Radio has partnered with Pepsi to sponsor a Rain Barrel Workshop during the Summit on Saturday, March 24. Participants will build a rain barrel and leave with it, ready to catch fresh water for gardening. The $20 workshop cost will be a contribution to SustainLex.

For more information contact Jim Embry at or see this workshop ad on page 12 of the march 1st issue of the Key Newsjournal.

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