demolition debris is recycled into more roads. Just past the
Astrodome, exit Stella Link. Notice the panadería and pastelería
on your right, the taqueria attached to the gas station, the tidy
brick homes, the slouching apartment buildings. Turn onto
Willowbend Boulevard. If you keep going straight, you’ll arrive
at the Fondren Farm. But just before the train tracks, stop at the
nondescript aluminum-sided warehouse. You are there.
It’s sometimes hard to imagine the natural topography of this
city. The banks of nearby Brays Bayou, like so many other Hous-
ton bayous that carry runo= to the Gulf, were cemented over by
the US Army Corps of Engineers years ago in what has turned
out to be a failed plan to facilitate drainage. If you kept heading
farther west, out toward Katy, you’d have a hard time finding the
wetlands and bluestem prairies that once absorbed those rains
and kept them from flooding the city. They’ve been cemented
over too, with parking lots and strip malls and endless subdivi-
sions. All of this omnivorous development has been abetted by
a lack of regulation, or weak enforcement of whatever regula-
tions do exist. But development has been Houston’s lure: Harris
County, which encompasses Houston, has grown more than any
other county in the country in recent years. This place has always
seemed to contain space enough and jobs for all. Yet now, after
Harvey—and after the Tax Day Flood of 2016 and the Memo-
rial Day Flood of 2015 — some fear this development may be the
city’s undoing in an era of intensifying climate change.
Liz opened the first meeting at the warehouse after the flood
by asking for reports from the farmers. “Rien est bon,” said Roy.
Nothing is good. The other farmers sitting on folding metal chairs
clucked, grim faced, and shook their bowed heads. Christine,
in her red velvet headscarf, still had a little okra left. Guy and
Plant It Forward farmers harvesting carrots at the Westbury Farm.