The local food trend has grown tremendously over the last 5 years and according to the National Gardening Association, “35% of all households in America, or 42 million households, are growing food at home or in a community garden,” an increase of 17% in the last five years. I used to think that I could just plant a seed in some dirt, water it and let it grow but after getting active in my local permaculture group in Brooklyn and helping some friends with their backyard urban garden, I quickly learned that there is A LOT more to it.
I’ve found that the best way to learn is by getting involved with a local community garden where they can teach you design, what to buy, maintenance, and much more. It also provides an opportunity for you to determine if having your own garden is truly something you want to invest time and money into.
If having a garden of your own is not something you have in mind, I still urge you to get your hands dirty and spend some time at a community garden. Not only will you be actively reducing our carbon footprint but also working in a garden is a great way to get some exercise in, relieve some stress and provide an opportunity for people in your community to have nutritious low cost food. The average distance that food travels from farm to fork is roughly 1,300 miles and by producing local food it greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions that are related to transportation of food. Additionally, most produce can lose an average of 30 percent of its nutrients within just 3 days after harvest and most produce sold in stores spend 7 to 14 days in transit on average.
The American Community Gardening Association estimates that there are 18,000 community gardens throughout the United States and Canada. If you’re having trouble finding one in your area try locating one on their Find a Garden resource.
For my local Austinites, here are a few community gardens in the area to check out:
UT Concho Community Garden
Located at 2108 Concho St where you can own a raised bed plot and grow your own food. Volunteer on Wednesday’s from 3:30-5:30pm and/or Saturdays from 10am-noon