At Lincoln South Rotary Club on November 19, we heard from Lincoln City Council Member Tammy Ward. She spoke on Urban Gardens.
Tammy opened by telling us she was excited to talk about urban farming - that most groups that invite her to speak want to talk about pot holes or other issues about the City.
She introduced her guests who would help present the information:
Megan McGuffey (joining online) who is the executive director of Community Crops (
Tammy's passion for farming is obvious. She grew up on a farm and she and siblings, along with the next generation, still run the family farm near Geneva. So it seems natural that she is also a strong supporter of urban farming.
Shortly after her election to City Council, she was approached by Tim Rinne. He asked about what projects she had in mind and offered urban farming as one she might consider.
Knowing that the Lincoln Airport Authority owned a great deal of land, a meeting was arranged that included Nick Cusick of the Lincoln Airport Authority, Tim and Tammy. They talked about how they might work together to make urban gardening work. The idea was presented to the Lincoln Airport Authority Board and 12 acres was leased to Community Crops - the Airpark Farm was born. Per Tammy "it took advocates with the passion and expertise to make this happen". 
It is hard for people to get started in farming without inheriting land. This fist year part of the farm is leased to a new American from Iraq. Khero Edo. He planted vegetables including peppers, eggplant and zucchini. The produce is his livelihood. Speaking through an interpreter he stated "there is a relationship between my soul and the ground".
Tammy mentioned that Lincoln's City Comprehensive Plan includes mention of local food for the first time ever. Local advocates are demanding that the City needs to pay attention - to realize that local produce helps support our local economic security.
Tammy introduced Tim Rinne - the founder of Hawley Hamlet in his neighborhood. The area is about a mile from downtown Lincoln and has about 80 yards of ground in gardens. 
In 2010 it started with 8 families, and there are now over 20 families within the block or across the street that have part of their ground in garden. 
Tim grew up in a small town - he is a 5th generation Nebraskan. He said until he was 53 he thought his job in the food system was to eat. 

He started to understand how climate change would impact how food is grown. He wanted to find a way to have local residents provide food for our neighbors, pointing out that his ancestors got 95% of their food within 5 miles.
Megan McGuffey, the executive director of Community Crops, stated that there are currently 12 community gardens. There will also soon be one near the People's City Mission.
Through their website you can find the garden locations and information about fees and volunteer opportunities.
There are a number of opportunities for learning about gardening, including how to start a new garden.
They work with a lot of new Americans and are seeing some new and interesting foods from other countries. She appreciates the opportunity to help new Americans get started in business.
Tammy closed the presentation stating how this has been such a rewarding relationship and shows the compassion of the citizens of Lincoln. "It is about Lincolnites providing opportunities for others."