I don't fault him for this, as it's the nature of the game, but the journalist boiled our conversation to the following: "Nathan McClintock, a professor at the school of urban studies at Portland State University, sees a link between the rise of urban farming and a diminishing social safety net. “With the stripping away of the welfare state, there’s a growing dependence on food banks and volunteerism; people can rely less on government assistance,” he said. “People are also moving back to cities and they want a back-to-the-land experience.”
He nailed the importance of my comment regarding the social safety net, the rise of voluntarism, etc., what we critical geographers like to refer to as the rise of the "shadow state" in the neoliberal era. But the second quote needs a bit more context and clarification. The important angle is the move back to the city, the return of investment to the urban core, the attraction to urban life. People don't want to give up the city. But for those interested in food and agriculture -- and there are a lot of us now! -- urban agriculture offers a "best of both worlds" scenario, where you can re-connect with where your food comes, then drink an espresso at your favorite coffee shop, go see a band play, take public transit or ride your bike to work, etc etc. As in the 70s and 80s when a lot of the back-to-the-land energy was channeled into community gardens on vacant lots inner cities, today's UA movement sees this convergence of a commitment to the city and a desire for everything the city has to offer, with a desire to reconnect with our food and the soil. De-alienation from nature and the fruits of our labor, as I've argued elsewhere. This, of course, comes with its own suite of problems, which is what I earn my keep thinking and writing and teaching about... but you can dig into my latest research for that.
Anyway, as I tweeted the other day, here's to Grow Calgary for their great work! Now let's tackle the reason why there are so damn many food banks!