Search This Blog

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Community Gardening Yeasayers and Naysayers

I regularly come across news items that either highlight the benefits of community gardening, are feel good stories about community gardening or are in some way negative about community gardening. Sometimes the news items make great counterpoints to each other like these.

I have been an advisor to Project Grow school gardening project at City as School H.S., an alternative public high school in lower Manhattan. For many years they had a garden and greenhouse in the entry plaza to the school. Last year, the greenhouse and garden had to be removed to make way for a renovation project to the school's facade. The school has no other usable space but currently they are gardening in a mini-farm at Battery Park. Some of the students created an interesting video about their project. Definitely Yeasayers.  Please note that Battery Park is 25 acres of  Parks Department parkland in Manhattan.

Another article I came across : "Senior Citizens' Illegal "Vegetable" Garden Destroyed In Highbridge Park" was about a group of seniors in Upper Manhattan that were growing vegetables in an underutilized area of Parks Department land in Upper Manhattan. Now, the seniors seemed to have neglected to ask permission -maybe they forgot, maybe they wanted fresh local vegetables like the aforementioned downtown Manhattan dwellers or maybe they were a group of guerilla gardeners. I don't know what their motivation was but it does point out that there is a demand for space to grow vegetables in NYC.
There was a disturbing comment from Manhattan Parks commissioner William Castro in the article which appeared in the on-line Gothamist weblog,  "'we almost never get a request for' vegetable gardens.". Definitely a Naysayer.  By the way, GreenThumb is the largest municipal community gardening program in the US, is part of the Parks Department and does issue licenses to nearly 300 groups to grow vegetables on land under the jurisdiction of the Parks department.

One more Naysayer: A Harvard professor, Edward L. Glaeser, wrote an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe with the subtitle  "Urban farms do more harm than good to the environment". His argument is that more urban agriculture = lower population density= more driving= more energy use. I guess on the surface this argument makes sense except that no one is talking about depopulating cities in order to grow more food within city limits but rather utilizing unused spaces like vacant land and rooftops.  I don't think that most cities will be able to grow a high proportion of the food they consume. The point is to grow as much as possible particularly items that provide high nutrition values using the most sustainable farming practices. Yes, I am a Yeasayer!

1 comment:

  1. Good for you! I'm so happy that you are aimed at growing items that provide high nutrition values. Hopefully, you use the most sustainable farming practices. Best regards, proofreading editing services online.