Urban agriculture has enjoyed a near meteoric rise in popularity in recent years. Projects began mostly through the grassroots efforts of non-profit organizations, but now urban planners and many city officials are also very interested in its interlinked economic, social, health and environmental benefits. Many of these officials and planners see urban agriculture’s greatest potential in low-income and communities of color where fresh food and employment opportunities can be scant, even though such desires may or may not have been articulated by community members. The official assumption seems to be that the benefits of urban agriculture are so compelling that everyone will want it. Period.
“Youth are prominent in the food justice movement today. This isn’t just because they are ‘included’ as afterthoughts to existing projects and programs. They lead and have their own, independent voice.” (Steel 2010). Many food justice organizations, sustainable farming projects or garden based education initiatives are connected to youth development programs. As children and young adults have become increasingly disconnected from their food sources, and as obesity and Type II diabetes become increasingly prevalent in young people, these programs provide a host of benefits for the participants and communities involved. Further, more than just participants along for the ride, young people have demonstrated tremendous initiative and leadership within just and sustainable food movements. However, considering that the food justice movement has touted itself as a diverse, inclusive movement where everyone may have a seat at the table, youth voices have been relatively absent from the food policy discourse.