After reading articles about residents growing vegetables in their backyards and seeing community gardens sprouting (pun intended) up in dense cities, I have become intrigued by this idea of growing your own produce instead of purchasing it at your local market. Is there a real future for this contemporary practice or will it continue to be limited to a small demographic?
The movement has evolved recently for several reasons:
- It saved money during the recession;
- It is seen as an effective way of promoting a healthier lifestyle;
- It creates food security.
Victory Garden during WWII
In San Francisco, there is a reputation for the city to uphold. “[San Franciscans] are seen as foodies, and environmentalists,” says Laura Tam, the Sustainable Development Policy Director at SPUR. This is reflected in the city’s decision to establish an Urban Agriculture Ordinance, which calls for an Urban Agriculture Program for the City and County of San Francisco.
There is still great uncertainty as to what kind of impact the Ordinance will have in the City. Land is rather scarce in San Francisco and how it is used will always create conflict, especially during the current construction boom.
Even if more community gardens start popping up, it does not mean everyone will embrace the concept. For someone to actually start growing his or her own produce requires a lifestyle change. It would reflect a cultural shift, which is rare on a large scale, even if we are talking about a city with only 800,000 residents.
The benefits of urban agriculture are clear. It encourages a healthier lifestyle and a more educated public; it is more sustainable and in the case of shared gardens, a growing sense of community.
Fortunately, there seems to be a strong level of support from the City. But the level of effectiveness is in large part dependent on how receptive the residents will be towards the change.
Does your neighborhood have any community gardens? If so, have they had a positive impact on the community?