This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com | http://facebook.com/voalearningenglish
Old properties and empty lots in cities and towns around the United States are finding new life as urban farms. EcoCity Farms in Edmonston, Maryland, is located near shopping centers, car repair shops and homes. The neighborhood is a working-class community. People do not have very much money, and they have limited access to fresh food in markets. Over the past two years, the farm has attracted volunteers from the community like Marcy Clark. She schools her four children at home. On a recent day she brought them to EcoCity Farms for a lesson. Her children harvested rows of spinach, mustard greens, lettuce, Swiss chard and carrots. "It's important that the children understand the connection between the food that they eat, the soil, the air, the pollution, how all this is connected to their well-being," she says. Her son Alston agrees: "You connect with the earth, where your food comes from. You appreciate the food a little bit more." Margaret Morgan-Hubbard started EcoCity Farms. She thinks of it as a place where people can learn to live healthier lives. "Our view is that what happens in a community, influences the culture of that community. So our idea was growing food in a community and showing that you can have farms even in urban areas, redefines what's possible in that area, in that community and brings people together." "Every piece of what we do here is a demonstration to show people everything about how to have a sustainable community," she says. That means not only farming food and raising chickens and bees, but improving the soil with compost made from food waste. Sixteen wooden bins are filled with worms. Their job is to eat the food waste and help make it into compost. EcoCity Farms is an "off the grid" experimental operation. The farm gets its power not from the local electricity grid but from the sun with solar panels. In winter, the greenhouses are heated using a geothermal system. Buried tubes pump air at underground temperature -- thirteen degrees Celsius -- into the structures. Vegetables can be grown all year. So once a week, all winter long, neighbors can come to the farm and pick up a share of the harvest. For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. You can find two videos about EcoCity Farms -- including one about the composting worms -- at voaspecialenglish.com.
(Adapted from a radio program broadcast 06Mar2012)
Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President of AfDB Group
- H. E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda
- H. E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya
- Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson, African Union Commission
- H. E. Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, former President, Republic of South Africa
- Hon. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
- Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
The World Economic Forum (WEF) report for 2014 identifies two critical leadership problems globally -- the first is that there is a leadership deficit, and the second is that there is a lack of trust in policies and programmes pursued by leaders. Good leadership will be crucial for enabling Africa to exploit the window of opportunity that has opened up in the past decade, notably its natural resource boom. However, experience indicates that leaders that are resourceful and accountable may be more important "initial conditions" for the development and transformation of their countries than resource abundance per se. Where leadership was inadequate, the pace of industrialization and innovation stagnated, and in some cases was reversed, irrespective of the size of the resource base. In the absence of good leadership, Africa will not be able to reach its global potential. That leadership should be able to produce domestic consensus or coalitions that ensure that sufficient resources and political attention are key to the goal of economic transformation. Some prerequisite elements are a capable state; government and private sector collaboration; a supportive environment for competitiveness; and continuous leveraging and development of the knowledge base.
Issues for Discussion
1. How can we nurture visionary African leadership to address any leadership deficit and engender trust in policies?
2. Does Africa need effective institutions more than it needs strong leaders?