A new Trader Joe’s opening in your neighborhood may seem like good news, but it can contribute to the food insecurity of our poorest neighbors. When people struggle to provide regular meals for their family, high-end grocery stores are not a realistic option, even if they prefer organic or artisan foods and it’s the closest store in the area. So, what are our alternatives? The most affordable option for organic produce is for people to grow their food. But this too is unrealistic without adequate space, knowledge, and resources to have a successful garden.
Many city and neighborhood councils are incorporating garden and green space as part of the cities’ master plans. This leads to discussions of whether or not it makes economic sense for areas to be designated for gardens, when shopping, businesses, and housing tend to bring in more revenue. These “bottom line” discussions are particularly true in city planning meetings where the budget often has the final say.
So what are the economic benefits of community gardens and city gardens? A consumer report released in 2015 looked at the cost of standard compared to organic produce. It found that across the board, organic produce was an average of 47 percent more expensive due to the limited space of urban gardening. The importance of green space is that it allows residents space to grow organic produce instead of buying it at a premium. This would save 47 percent more from organic food production, in addition to the initial cost of non-organic produce, which is a significant economic incentive of its own.
However, saving money is not the only economic incentive. Most produce from urban gardening is consumed within the urban area where it is produced. This means we’re using less fuel for distribution transport, and less time in transit from picking to consumption. Since community gardens can be put anywhere, it is feasible and practical to have them in areas known as “food deserts” or where grocery stores are not within walking distance. This way, a trip to fresh local produce becomes a walk instead of a drive. Again, fuel and transportation are conserved while health improves. But the ultimate savings are the savings of the natural systems which gardening restores.
Community Action teaches basic community garden classes where the focus is on natural systems and our affect as humans on these natural systems. Are we as humans helping or hindering these natural systems? In these classes, we try to show that the way we engage with nature is indicative of the way we engage in general, and specifically with other humans. Are we observing first? Are we encouraging and cultivating? Or are we changing and altering? Perhaps the greatest economic benefit of community gardening is the savings in the commodity of connections and relationships.
So, in these ways, community gardening will make us rich. We will save money by growing our produce, saving natural resources and systems, and be healthier by walking and gardening instead of driving. Maybe most important, we will be rich in the relationships we will make as we learn to engage with others, as we cultivate and nurture by the methods we learn at the garden.
There are gardens and gardening classes all over the state. To get involved with Community Action’s community gardens in Provo, visit our website and to learn more about our free gardening classes, visit our Facebook page.
- Posted by Community Action
- On July 3, 2017
- 0 Comments