They had a plan when they moved in to the city.
Of course they did; they were the Planners. They had other names – the Seven Families, the Amalgamated Preparation Assembly, or just The Founders – but the one they called themselves, in their private meetings, was The Planners. And what they did was Prepare, Found, and, most of all, Plan.
They’d done this in several other cities already – move in, begin buying up unwanted, abandoned, cheap land in bad neighborhoods, empty warehouse space, anything they could get that was standing vacant. And then They would begin cleaning, stockpiling, restoring, and, in some cases, demolishing to make room for green space.
Bringing at least some food production to within the reach of the cities was their primary goal, although they couched it in different terms depending on the audience: raising property values, making community spaces, teaching the youth of the city about food, creating habitats for wildlife. The Planners had learned how to camouflage their long-term plans, and how to blend in with their environments.
Everything went a little weird when they got to Syracuse, though.
Kerafena knew much of it was her fault. It was her first management job, her first chance to prove herself, and they’d given her the budget they always gave to new-city developers, something with enough zeros to make her eyes water, and expected to see results within three years. She gulped, considered running away to Kalamazoo, changing her name, and becoming a short-order cook, and then shook herself and got on with her business.
She bought properties. She refurbished tolerable buildings, throwing money at contractors until she found a group she liked and doing much of the work herself. She rented out refurbished buildings, started planning some modern apartment space, and broke ground for a Planners headquarters.
Mostly, though, she tore down old, decrepit buildings and planted the resultant lots. She started with three such gardens her first year; by her third, she had enough that she needed to hire day labor to help her maintain them; by her seventh year, she had three property managers, ten full-time workers, day laborers by the truck in planting and harvesting seasons, and four farm stands in the heart of the city.
By the time the Elders came to view her progress, she had a ring of green properties circling the city, corn and wheat and parkland in what had been the most decrepit neighborhoods, a pumpkin field abutting the college, and – and this is where the Elders began to raise eyebrows – her cows had gotten out and were running through the McDonald’s parking lot.
Some inspiration from this song, esp:
“His cows get loose and run right thru the fast food parking lots
And Daddy gets calls from the mini-malls
when they’re downwind from his hogs. “
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