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Food from the Garden

In: Social Issues

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Nothings better than food straight from the garden is this a true statement or an exaggerated statement; this paper will look at where in the community if anywhere a garden such as this would and could exist. We will explore the pros and cons of such a topic.

Community gardens have been around for hundreds of years, they were first thought of to provide relief to families of poverty and low income; they were quite often incorporated into vacant lots and land. They were created not only for production of food but also morale and skill based learning. They provide not only an area to rest and re cooperate but also a teaching area. (Hampton, 2005)

When these gardens were first thought of it was discovered that very few people knew how to garden. Training was provided to help these people complete their task. The trend of creating a community or private based garden for teaching and learning continues to this day. (Hampton, 2005)

As we know in this new century many families live in or near major city however on of the things that lacks there are a number of positives also a number of unfortunate negatives towards having a community garden; there are far too many on both the positive and negative sides to list but the main areas to focus on would firstly be the positive. Some positives to a community garden are as follows:

• There is a decreased amount of chemicals and pesticides used in home grown gardens than the industrial mass produced, • By having a community garden you are creating just that a community,

• A decrease in the grocery bill will result in a happier family and morale all round. (Surls.2001)

• Gardening in general has been linked to better psychological benefits.

• And those people that indulge in gardening have been found to enjoy a more nutritious diet than the non-gardeners.

(Somerset, Ball, Flett, and Geissman. 2005.)

Individual families and people that are routinely involved in the production and cultivation of their own garden or a community garden; the benefit of this has been found to enjoy a more nutritious and enjoyable diet than the non-Gardner. (Somerset, Ball, FlettGeissman.2005). It is found that self-gardeners have a greater variety and access to food home grown than non-gardeners; it is also acknowledged that community gardeners consumed significantly more vegetables than sweets when actively involved in their own gardens.

There are many a motivation for people to partake in a community garden or even their own gardens for that matter, it has been found that to provide food of a nutrious nature even on a low budget income family is beneficial to this; but not only does it lower the outgoing cost of a tightly budgeted household those found with mental or handicapped issues benefit greatly from it as well. (Armstrong, 2001). It has been found that in built up Urban areas in Australia for example a city like Sydney; it’s found that a link between good food and good health has driven a large increase in the establishment of local food production in private and community orientated gardens (Byrne,2009).

The positives of having a private garden don’t stop at being mental and physically sound in nature; but has been proven to take people to an investigative level of traditional plant cultivation. This study was conducted in a minimum security prison of Broome where it is acknowledged that they are typically from a low income household; it is acknowledged that a number of the participants in a community run program within the prison were only a generation away from that of a traditional Aboriginal life (Byrne,2009).

The area where a private garden plays a major positive role in our communities is quite evident in today’s global culture of fast food. As countries become richer and the economy tends to raise unfortunately so does the poverty of our poorer nations and populations. This is what has come to be known as the nutritions transition
( Drewnowski,2000.) As the western world begins to become more urban, and shift from the rural scene there has been a shift in diets from the high in carbohydrates and fibre and more towards the higher sugar filled diets and fats. At the same time as the shift in diets there has also been a shift in diseases; stepping away from infectious and more towards diet related for example, diabetes, obesity and heart disease to name a few. (Drewnowski, 2000).

By the implantation of a community garden into urban areas this could significantly reduce the amount of diet related illnesses. In a document produced by the LA conservation Corps titled “Community Garden start up guide” Surls discusses the best way to invigorate and start up a community garden in your area. Some of the arguments that she has stated in her guide for example the saving cost of food bills and money are well documented. Surls states at least fourteen good steps to begin and create your own community garden and the benefits of doing this (Surls, 2001). It has been blamed that a that an increase in reduced cost of vegetable is the main reason for an increased fat consumption thus reverting to a private/community garden the evidence points towards a healthier diet and family morale, free from disease and out of pocket expense. (Drewnowski, 2000).

There are however a number of negative or contradictions towards having a private or community garden and they are; the theft of produce, responsibility of the garden and recruitment and sustainability of the site and the produce, and what to do with the plot when a community moves on or a developer wishes to utilise that vacant area. When communities start a garden in their area or urban neighbourhood and they move on; there is a great chance that unless an overwhelming desire of the new tenants to upkeep the garden it could be sold off and re-developed for financial gain (Hampton, 2005.)

A project conducted in the United States found that there was a problem with recruiting and maintaining volunteers for the gardens, most gardens had as few as 5-10 and as many as 50 people to help maintain and rotate stock and care of produce (Hampton,2005). By not having enough people to help in these kinds of gardens it’s easy to see how and why they can fail without enough participation. It was interesting to note that neither age, gender nor race played a part in lack of community involvement in the community based garden. (Hampton, 2005.)

One of the largest threats to that of a community garden is theft; it was found that theft can contribute to the turning away of people from their community garden as their hard work has gone to waste. In a book written by David Tracey titled ‘Guerrilla Gardening’ he explains a number of issues found in the community garden and in particular theft of produce (Tracey, 2007.). He has written a number of ways to help prevent the theft and unwanted takings of produce and food in seven relatively easy steps. The steps are quite easy to follow and tend to be quite basic and easy to follow. Tracey states that by employing more gardeners this could mean fewer opportunities for thieves target produce; by keeping your plots and garden in good order and clean it makes it harder for thieves to steal as the grounds look near perfect. It was found that a well maintained and looked after garden promoted less crime and theft in the area and a greater want to be a part of the community garden. (Tracey, 2007.)

In an area that suffers from low income and economic stature the chances of theft of produce runs high as prices in urban areas rise and shops push up the cost of living it is more likely that community gardens could be targeted, if there is no one to maintain them and keep them looking healthy.

In summary by having your neighbours involved in a garden and or forming a club for a community based garden goes a long way; there are some indefinite contradictions to having a community garden in your area but it is quite obvious that the positives outweigh the negatives. Nothing is better than food straight from the garden to your stomach however by weighing the negatives against the positives it is quite clear that in today’s era where people mostly live urban it is of benefit.

References:

Armstrong,D.2001. “A Survey of Community gardens in Upstate New York: Implications for health promotion and Community development”.Health and place.

Brann, M.2009. Wangkatjungka and the Vegie Patch Craze. ABC Rural. Australia

Byrne,J.2009. Gardening Australia- Fact Sheet. Australian Broadcasting Commision. Television Programme. Series 20 Episode 29.Australia

Drewnowski,A.2000. Nutrition Transition and Global Dietary Trends. Nutrition; Vol 16 Pg 486-487.

Hampton,J.2005.”Perceived community boundaries: Relationship between community gardens and surrounding transitional neighbourhoods”. A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Department of Geography, Sociology Economics, and Anthropology in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Degree Master of Arts in Geography. Chicago IL.

Surls, R.2001. Community Garden Start Up-Guide.Los Angeles Conservation Corps.

Somerset,S. Ball,R.Flett,M. Geissman, R.2005.A paper presented at the national conference of the Home Economics Institute of Australia.”School Based Community gardens: Re-establishing healthy relationships with food. 12-15 January 2005, Hobart Tasmania.

Tracey,D.2007. Guerrilla Gardening. New Society Publishers Ltd.

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