A Community that Grows Together

We meet again, Good People!

 

For about a month now I have really taken an interest in Community Gardens and how it affects the environment its grown in. A few weeks ago I attended a presentation on solar energy at a local bookstore in my neighborhood. It was great! I learned the difference between using solar energy as opposed to using the conventional standards of domestic electricity. I learned how much money I could ultimately save, I even learned how to start in the house I'm in right now. Throughout the entire presentation attendants could ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of what was being said and towards the end of the presentation we began to build on nutrition and diet in the communities in Philadelphia as well as communities all around this country. There was a woman there who just so happened to run community gardens around the city and she started giving me advice on how to start one in my area. Now, prior to this meeting of minds I had a desire to want to upgrade my community. I saw the boarded up homes, the abandoned buildings and the pollution, but underneath it all I saw what it could and will ultimately be. On my daily walks with Lola we pass these open lots with nothing in them but grass. After a year and a half of me seeing these lots I decided it would be a good idea to turn them into community gardens. It is a fact that the things you eat determine much more than just your status of "hungry" or "full". Your mood, your way of thinking, your physical abilities and your overall disposition towards the life you live are indicative of the things you eat. Needless to say I was extra excited about the idea of community gardens and of course once I got home I began to do my digging, pun slightly intended. 

Here are some stats and facts that I found to be very interesting: 

According to the National Gardening Association

  • 42 million households are growing their own food in their home and/or via  community gardens.
  • There has been a 29% increase in food gardening in urban areas since 2008 at 9 million households and counting.
  • 11 million households with incomes of less than $35,000 are participating in food gardening and that number continues to grow.
When you're beautiful and delicious at the same time.

When you're beautiful and delicious at the same time.

It is clear that the importance and action of gardening is increasing and rightfully so. It is no secret that major corporations across the globe that produce so-called "foods" have sacrificed health and nutrition for profit gains. Instead of cooks and bakers working hard to provide a quality product that is good for your well being these companies are using scientists to create chemical compounds that will simulate the taste of chocolate or strawberries. I encourage everyone to go to their favorite conventional food product, turn it over and read the Nutritional Facts on the back. Even though they are certain ingredients these brands don't have to disclose on the package, there is enough evidence to show you that you do not need to be eating it. I also understand how incredibly easy it is for you to consume these products. They're insanely affordable, they come in large quantities, they stimulate all the senses just right and we're always ready for more.  

Our society has become very comfortable with the consuming a brand because of the narrative it uses to sell their products. If a happy family is on TV sitting at the dinner table eating Tyson's Chicken Strips, we're comfortable with buying the chicken (despite all of the harmful antibiotics and chemicals they use) because it portrays something that you can relate to and/or aspire to be. This is not to say that this method of advertising is totally bad, just to understand that there are companies who use these tactics to get you to consume their foods even though it's not necessarily true. Television advertisements puts these images into minds to make you think you need to buy their products in order to be happy. The prepared food industry spends a little over a billion dollars ($1,000,683,255.30) a year on TV advertisements alone and if they're spending that much that should let you know how profitable it is to gain your interests through this media.

One of the biggest objections that I hear when I have conversations with people is "I know that these foods aren't good for me, but eating healthy is just too expensive. I can't afford to go natural and organic."  I completely understand where they are coming from and I just try my best to educate them because if we're being honest, that sentiment isn't as true as people believe. It is easy to be discouraged when you're in the grocery store and see that Organic cereal brands are a couple dollars more than the conventional brand or when you see that Kraft Mac & Cheese has a 5/$5.00 sale and the Organic pasta is $6.50 a pack. Consider this though. Is the foods you're eating today worth your health tomorrow? Is the money you saved today in the store aisles worth you spending on healthcare expenses in the future? Truth be told, the foods that we regularly eat are causing cancer and other health complications and if we don't stop now it will surely grow worse. This is why community gardens are at the highest they've been in the last 10 years. Here's exactly why you should get involved with or start a community garden:

Foods in the United States travel an average of 1300 miles from farm to plate, leaving it open to all types of contaminating agents such as the fuel fumes the modes of transportation used to get there. Locally produced fruits and vegetables greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions as well as asthma rates, stress and other preventable health problems. Community gardens have shown to increase the property value in the area it's in. They look beautiful and make your neighborhood come alive with an array of vibrant colors not to mention the lovely scents! Community gardens also provide education programs on how to grow your own foods, diet and nutrition and how to function as a community to encourage participation from everyone. They even can provide jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the local residents. Community gardens affect the crime rates in some ways as well. The more community gardens, the higher the need for residents to get involved. The more residents that get involved, the more people become closer as neighbors. The closer we get as neighbors, the less likely it is for people to want to commit crimes against each other while simultaneously increasing the chances of us helping one another. Community gardens are able to yield several TONS of fresh organic produce for the community that wouldn't cost nearly as much as your major department stores and you will be able to know where your food comes from. There really isn't a downside to Community Gardens especially for the people who participate in their growth.

The Millennial generation (ages 18-34) is definitely aware of how crappy the foods that are readily available to the masses in the store are and it shows with the spike of community food gardening across the country. In 2013 the number of millennial gardeners grew 63% at 13 million from the 8 million that was reported in 2008. Our generation has also spent $1.2 billion on food gardening in 2013 which I can only assume has grown in the last year and a half. I think this spike of gardening is due to our generation using the internet to find out the truth about these food brands. We are waking up to the fact that these companies are not here to keep us healthy, but to keep us dependent on their products, and we're doing what's necessary to eat right. I am confident that community gardens and community gardening will make a huge impact in the health of our generation and generations to come. People, especially young people must know that simply changing the things you eat can add days to your life each meal. The foods we eat are extremely important and now more than ever we have to start taking our eating habits seriously, it could very well save your life. 

Your body isn't made of inorganic materials so it isn't logically advised for the body to consume things that are inorganic. A lot of the ailments that physically hold us back like muscle cramps, spasms, sore limbs and back pain can be fixed by properly using fresh produce, herbs and spices. It's highly encouraged to get to the point where taking over the counter and prescription drugs that have harmful side effects aren't even a thought because we know how to mix organic ingredients to soothe our aches and pains. I'm not saying that modern medicine hasn't made major headway in curing people's problems, I'm simply saying that before there is a need to visit the hospital in reaction to a problem, let's make sure it doesn't happen in the first place. Living from the Earth is essential to a long healthy life and we want as many people possible to enjoy what life has to offer them and what they can offer life. Think about this blog the next time you're in the store shopping for the food you eat. I hope I've helped in some way, thank you for reading!

This isn't a fantasy. This could be your neighborhood.

This isn't a fantasy. This could be your neighborhood.

PS: If you want to get involved or start your own garden here are some helpful resources!

Find a local community garden in your area here: Find A Garden!
Find out how to start a Community Garden here: Garden STARTUP!
Find out how to start your own home food garden here: Home Food Gardening


-DOE