lists some 2,500 community gardens in its database, as does the American Community Gardening Association (CommunityGarden.org
growing potential. Climbing vines such as grapes and berries, hanging pots with tomatoes and nasturtium, and fruit trees in half-barrels are great ways to grow more food in a small space. The crops don’t know they’re in a pot.” Herbs also love containers. Some plants, like tomatoes,
can even be grown upside-down to more efficiently use limited space.
“Community gardens are an excellent solution for those with the garden itch and no good land to scratch,” advises Roger Doiron, founder of Kitchen Gardeners International (Kitchen Gardeners.org
), a nonprofit community of 20,000 members that has been cultivating change since 2008. Community gardens have taken over empty city lots, church lawns and schoolyards that are collectively farmed for food, relaxation or social camaraderie. Co-gardening a neighbor’s lot and sharing the harvest is another option.
Eating the Lawn “There are no beauty contests in the plant world, but, if there were, a productive, ever-changing patch of diverse veg- etables would beat out a monoculture of turf grass any time,” says Doiron, smiling. Put into food production, America’s 25 million acres of lawns could go a long way toward reducing the environmental cost of transporting produce hundreds or thousands of miles. Americans growing their own food isn’t a pie-in-the-sky
fantasy. As University of California garden historian Rose Hayden-Smith confirms, “During the peak year for Victory Gardens, 1943, some government estimates indicated that up to 40 percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed on the American home front were produced in school, home, community and workplace gardens.” “One of the first steps in bringing healthy foods to the forefront of society is bringing them to the front and center of our living spaces,” concludes Doiron. “Growing food in small spaces is all about doing what you can with what you have. It’s a matter of changing our notion of potential food- producing landscapes.” It does wonders for people’s connec- tion to nature, too.
John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist are co-authors of Farmstead Chef (FarmsteadChef.com
), ECOpreneuring and Rural Renaissance. Their award-winning Inn Serendipity B&B (InnSerendipity.com
) operates completely on renewable energy.
Straight from the Farm,
Right in Town by Scott Binkley
ommunity gardens are an empowering example of self sufficiency. For those concerned about the cost or environmental impact of supermarket food or for those interested in eating healthy and spending time outdoors, it may be time to get involved in a local garden project.
CANAS Victory Garden Project The Central Arkansas New Agrarian Society (CANAS) is a group based in Little Rock. Started just over a year ago, the organization’s mission is to grow the number of community and backyard gardens in the area. Through education, a tool share program, and possibly a micro loan program in the future, the group wants to use its volunteer based network to help individuals grow their own fresh vegetables. Founder Ryan Boswell states, “The Victory Garden Project is an urban demonstration farm for CANAS; it is the first in what we hope to be a network of gardens linking neighborhoods with fresh home-grown food.”
Felder Farm Felder Farm is a community garden near the Little Rock airport supported by the Arkansas Sustainability Network. The farm is open for harvest to local residents and is also a market garden with produce sold at the local food club and local markets.
Dunbar Community Garden in the central city area of Little Rock is an innovative public/private partnership between Little Rock Parks and Recreation and two adjacent schools. The outdoor “classroom” serves students from the adjacent Gibbs International Magnet Elementary School and Dunbar Magnet Middle School.
Hot Springs Community Gardens The community gardens in Hot Springs takes city owned vacant lot space and converts it to food producing community goodness. For a small yearly fee you can cultivate a 4x9 ft raised bed. Denise Parkinson, Secretary of the community garden board says, “The garden has become a community meeting place, hosting potlucks, field trips for school children and live music.”
For more information: CANAS Facebook page felderfarm.com dunbargarden.org
Hot Springs Community Gardens Facebook page
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