As population densities increase in urban centers, demand for fresh, local, and sustainable food also increases. The desire for more local produce in cities has catalyzed the urban gardening movement. Urban gardening ranges from small simple gardens in backyards to sprawling abandoned plots full of fruits and veggies.
When urban gardening takes hold in a city, the quality of life throughout the region improves. Low-income families receive access to healthy produce. Larger gardens and farms provide job opportunities. Nearby restaurants benefit from locally grown fruits and vegetables. Blighted neighborhoods become beautified with green areas. Especially, children benefit from this change in city culture by learning about eating healthily. These urban gardens revitalize areas that have fallen on hard times.
Urban gardening in the Washington metro area is on the rise. According to the Neighborhood Farm Initiative 2010 census, there are 36 community gardens in DC. They cover over 26 acres of land with beautiful and healthy gardens. In addition to these community spaces, food bank partner organizations such as Bread for the City, DC Central Kitchen, and Martha’s Table all tend their own gardens and use them to educate the public on their benefits.
The Capital Area Food Bank is no exception. For a number of years, we have engaged youth in garden-based nutrition education at the Children of Mine center; our six week program there will start on June 11th! We are also excited that the food bank’s new building will be home to a large scale urban demonstration and education garden. This space will allow us to empower more community leaders to use growing food to promote healthy eating.
Are you an urban gardener? What are some of your experiences growing your own fruits and vegetables? Please share your stories or send us pictures of your gardens on Facebook. In addition, if you want to participate in gardening in cooperation with the Capital Area Food Bank, please email Abbie Steiner, our Healthy Eating Educator: firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Growing!