Urban Gardening and the Effects it Has on Communities

Growing up in middle Tennessee in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I went to school with kids whose families farmed, grew tobacco or operated a dairy farm. These kids regularly missed school because they were turning tobacco leaves during curing, harvesting a crop or transporting said crop to market. Other families had a small garden on their property whose fruits and vegetables supplemented the grocery list and which sustained them through the winter months.

Back To The Basics

It was a simple, clean life that is remembered fondly in these times of packaged foods, economic woes, air and water

Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

pollution as well as the other ills of modern life. It is a cliche now, but a cliche is only a trueism – wait a few years and your childhood will come back into style. So I’ve noticed more and more gardens in people’s backyards in the past couple years, especially since the economy went south.

Sustaining Economic Growth

When I see a backyard garden, I wonder if the property owners know the special satisfaction of taking their fruits and vegetables to the local produce stand to haggle with the owner over price, glow with pride as their product is sold, or offer free produce to needy families. I wonder if they know the camaraderie involved with neighbors helping with the planting and harvesting in return for a share of the crop.

Nature’s Real Benefits

I remember the discolored fingers of the kids whose families planted tobacco and shrank with shame that my fingers were clean. To me, that was a sign you were real and not a despised member of the establishment. Learning nature’s ways, living in harmony with them, sharing them, and learning how to heal with them seemed more desirable than the hated nine to five number.

Memories vs Modern Day

Image by Simon Howden

Imagine my surprise when I caught a special on the News which displayed a community urban gardening project. These people were taking matters into their own hands in order to feed their community and learn nature’s ways. Communities were taking charge of properties awash with garbage, overgrown with weeds and useless to anyone else and turning them into gardens. Land lying fallow for years would yield good crops which would sustain the community.

Today’s Economy

As I look around the local grocery, I notice signs over the produce bins saying locally grown. I think back to my childhood days in the local produce stand and I suddenly see nothing has changed. People harvest their crops and sell them to the local produce stand, which has grown into a giant supermarket chain. Roadside stands still flourish and church steps still bear witness to produce for the needy among us.

Nature’s Ways

The benefits of urban gardening for communities include so much more than just economy and food. People are learning once more how to use nature’s bounty to heal, by using fresh foods to combat disease. Transporting crops to market is eliminated, which saves on fuel and energy. More plants means more oxygen, which in turn means better health for everyone. It’s refreshing to notice not much has changed.

The Overview

Urban Gardening is just like any organization or group that people can belong too – it helps to create jobs and income. It also does this in an area that would otherwise be unused or at the very least an unproductive space. The only difference with urban gardening is that this type of outdoor activity helps people to gain a little bit of independence in terms of food security, whiling being very helpful to the environment. While urban gardening definitely will not be the only thing one can rely on for food, it can be the perfect supplemental source – one that is very healthy.

Anytime a community comes together to join in on a common goal – a goal that has positive side effects – the trickle down effects on the whole environment are good. This St. Louis study showed that robberies decreased on blocks with community gardens, and this Flint, Michigan study even helped with pride and youth development and decrease dumping and crime.

As you can see, the benefits from Urban gardening are far greater and deeper rooted than the plants themselves.

This article was written by Laura Zanskey. Laura helps to run and maintain www.monavie.com. MonaVie is a company that creates scientifically formulated health drinks. These drinks are created to help nourish bodies in many different ways depending on the drink that you choose.

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