Last week, the City of Boston suffered a huge loss when our former mayor, Thomas Menino, passed away. People turned out in huge numbers to remember Mayor Menino, not just for his leadership as our longest serving mayor, but for his friendship and commitment to the neighborhoods and people of Boston. This is how we’ll remember our Mayor.
Mayor Tom Menino has been noted for saying, “Visionaries don’t get things done.” He prided himself on being a doer. But he was a visionary too. Our story is just one small example of this truth.
In the last days of 2009, Farm Aid was invited by Mayor Menino to a meeting with others working on food and farm issues. We attended, mingling with dedicated people addressing hunger, public health, and the challenges of growing food. When our convener finally arrived he quickly got down to business, thanking us for joining his new Boston Food Policy Council. He asked us to keep the news under wraps until the official announcement from his office. Then he was off to his next appointment.
It was brilliant. We couldn’t say no, for we hadn’t been asked; we’d been initiated. This was the doing part. At the first official meeting of the Boston Food Policy Council, the Mayor of Food, as he’s been rightfully proclaimed, laid out his vision: urban farms on rooftops and vacant lots, farm fresh food in schools and neighborhood bodegas, thriving businesses built around the local food system, farmers markets and community gardens bringing healthy food to communities and community to neighborhoods — in short, a greener, healthier, food-secure city.
The Mayor’s Office of Food Initiatives is working on all of this and more. Mayor Menino became a leader in the food movement nationally and Boston became a brilliant model for other cities. This commitment to food security and local food production is just one of Mayor Menino’s legacies. Farm Aid is proud to be part of this work. We will continue to be inspired by his ability to get things done, by his bold vision, and by his love of food and, most of all, people.
John Mellencamp and Mayor Menino at a press conference in Copley Square, Boston, to announce Farm Aid 2008.