Urban Farming was a new concept to me when I moved from Springfield, Illinois to Portland, Oregon. In Springfield, there were fields and farms and those were all outside of the city. I have yet to hear about anyone in the city of Springfield having chickens in their yard. Yes, I do know people who have wonderful vegetable gardens, but in Illinois, with such fertile ground, it is a shame not to have a garden of some kind when space is available. But the gardens are more for pleasure rather than out of necessity.

During my six years in Portland, Oregon I have lived in various neighborhoods, all of which had at least two houses in a block that had chickens and usually a vegetable garden, sometimes even a goat or two. These are not people who need to raise animals and grow vegetables in order to put food on the table, they are the type of people who think in terms of the environment, sustainability and organic products. They want to know where their food comes from, how it was raised and that it died humanely. Thus they choose to spend the extra time and money on chickens and a vegetable garden. It is a conscious decision on their part.

In Georgia, chickens live in the apartment building yard, vegetables are grown in pots on balconies and if there truly is no space, there is always family in the village with more than enough of the freshest of fresh produce to share. People do this out of necessity, not pleasure. They supplement what they can purchase at the bazaar from farmers with what they can produce themselves. They do not think about the environmental impact. It is not a conscious decision to support locally grown and raised producers. It is what is available and just how it works.

So many things are fresh in Georgia by nature. If you are not growing it yourself, then someone local is growing it and bringing it daily to the bazaar. Also, there does not seem to be a set infrastructure of shipping produce across the country. (Of course I have not done any research to back that statement, just a thought from observations on how many things seem to be “run” in Georgia). When my second host family and I were going to the village we were caught behind a truck with live cattle. They were complaining about how it smelled like cow. Finally, I explained and they were shocked, having never seen one, and had to pass the truck in order to see for themselves that cows were actually alive inside. It is always so cool to learn something knew about the little differences in cultures and countries. I love it!

I am not trying to criticize either way of life, I am honestly just amused by how hip, green and environmental neighborhoods in a first world country can have so much in common with the average neighborhood in a developing nation. Ok, so I might sometimes like making fun of urban farming in Portland, but I do have a respect for it all the same.

Littering is another interesting habit in Georgia. On a daily basis, I see so many people litter willy-nilly. My first host family used their yard as a garbage can. They would throw wrappers, bottles and stuff off of the porch. Yes, the mother did clean the yard about every week, but that seemed to be more for the sake of Georgians being very tidy, with the exception of littering, rather than any environmental concern. Walking down the street, despite the plethora of garbage bins in Kutaisi, people will drop wrappers.

At the same time, every morning on my walk to school, I see little old ladies in bright orange construction workers vest sweeping the garbage with twig brooms. I assume that they work for the city of Kutaisi, but they could also be good summaritians. I just do not know.

 

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