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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A New Vision for Change: Revision Urban Farm

Hunger and homelessness affects millions of people, leaving them without guaranteed access to basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter. On Saturday, April 4, a group of thirty students from University of Massachusetts Boston, along with individuals and groups from across the nation, set out to lend a hand, even if only for a few hours. Some volunteers went to shelters where people received food and a bed to sleep on; some went to locations that concentrated on providing just food. Others helped clean and serve in local areas. The work that was done at these different locations was without a doubt a great help and a vivid display of taking care of others, both those they knew and those they didn’t. The details, however, I cannot write about because, well, I wasn’t there with them. But what I can write about is a place called Revision.

Dorchester and all the noise, the traffic, the people, the motions of the city, there lies about three or four acres of land dedicated to making a difference, literally from the ground up. This place, in contrast to the surrounding area, seems like a fantasy or a place running on a strange time where old agrarian ideals reap the benefits of modern technology and knowledge.

The Revision Urban Farm and Shelter serves many people and many purposes. The workers operate out of two triple-decker homes. These buildings offer shelter for twenty-two families that consist of mothers and their children. The residents are not permanent, and part of Revision’s mission is to help these women get jobs and find homes of their own.

The mission only starts there. On the back of one of the buildings there is a customized greenhouse. The greenhouse is used to produce food for both the house itself and to sell on the market. The main produce is a breed of African fish that can survive almost any kind of warm water and conditions. Along with these fish there are secondary produce, plants and vegetables. All of the produce are grown within a symbiotic system. The plants are grown using a hydroponics system and the water for the plants and fish are recycled, helping to reduce waste-water. In fact, the water is also cleaned using a screen and filter process. Even with the recycling and re-using method, approximately eighty percent of the water does get wasted. In hopes of reducing that percentage they are currently in the process of building a wet-land in order to help clean the water naturally. Thes may help conserve ten to twenty percent during the summertime and warmer weather, and nearly one hundred percent during the winter.

Across the street from the buildings there is a plot of land of approximately one acre on which they grow numerous vegetables. They have two greenhouses; one of them is used for growing seedlings, the other, larger building, is utilized to grow more mature vegetables and to produce compost. Outside, they have many plots separated for tomatoes, cabbages, lettuce, peas, just to name a few. All the food that they grow either goes directly to the people at the shelter or is sold on the market to help fund the center.

While Laurel and Ben work with the farming and Adam works with the fish and hydroponics plants, they have a plenty of helpers. The families who live at the shelter are encouraged to work wherever they can, however they can. This work is not limited to the agrarian, but they can also help in the administrative work that needs to be done. There are families coming in and out of the shelter on a regular basis. There are people to be called, organizations that require contacting, and tons of paperwork to be processed. Basically, there is always something to be done, inside and outside, and those that live within the shelter can always find a place to help themselves and others.

The experience here was amazing. The Revision Urban Farm and Shelter is a testament to the variety of alternatives available to each and every one of us when dealing with problems of housing and feeding. They represent a constructive method and process to handle a delicate situation. Until we find a way to end poverty and homelessness, and stop the system that enables such circumstances to exist for so long, the Revision Shelter and Urban Farm does a tremendous job at making a difference. And not only do they make an impact in peoples’ lives, in the community, and the hopefully the system itself, but they do so in a sustainable way.