(re-posted from the American Community Gardening Association)
Community Gardening/Urban Farming provides the opportunity for thousands of families to experience growing their own fresh vegetables. This gives people a chance to come together, work, grow and learn together. The primary focus of gardening/farming is to encourage healthy habits and improve general health and health outcomes.
Food insecurity is a huge concern. Cheap, low-quality food is extremely abundant in many areas. Organic produce offerings are few and when available are cost-prohibitive for many. In addition to the lack of available produce, an additional burden on public health is the fact that many have sedentary lifestyles.
Food insecurity and obesity are costly to families and communities. Most children do not receive the necessary nutrients to develop properly. Obese children have a longer recovery rate when hospitalized. Both obese children and adults have a higher risk of suffering from chronic ailments including but not limited to: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, some cancers and gall bladder disease. The direct costs of obesity and food insecurity to the community are higher medical costs and low productivity.
Ways which we can help eradicate the challenges:
Benefits of Community Gardening/Farming:
o Improving the quality of life.
o Providing access to fresh naturally grown produce.
o Reducing barriers to healthy living in urban communities
o Provide the awareness on the importance of choosing high quality food.
o Educating, demonstrations and incorporation of alternative energy sources and the importance of recycling and land sharing.
o Facilitating Outdoor activities to encourage the receptiveness of residents to adopt healthier lifestyles.
o Providing technology training programs to develop business management.
o Development of local food sources (farmers markets).
o Promoting social and cultural identity.
o Building a stronger sense of community by bring people together.
o Give youth, especially at-risk youth, a sense of meaning and belonging.
o Encouraging collaborations and new partnerships to improve the community
o Building social networking through inter-generations and cross cultures.
Urban Gardening/Farming supports the community by:
o Maintaining Gardening Programs
o Educational Gardening Programs
o Therapy and exercise
o Entrepreneurial Opportunities
o Leadership Training Meeting
o Outreach Programs
o Feeding The Homeless
o Donating Fresh Vegetables
o Healthy Cooking Demonstration Classes
-Cathy Walker, ACGA Board Member