About ten years ago, I saw residents of public housing growing food in their small yards in Richmond and New York. I didn’t think about it a lot until recently, though. I didn’t think about it until I started really appreciating the role of a garden in my own life.
At home&community inc, the work has been ongoing to help residents with housing and community development policy. But, there are some fundamental concepts about health that seem missing from some of our client’s daily lives. Our first effort to address health was in the form of green cleaning strategies. We still do that with our OriginalGreen project. But, there was more and more talk about nutrition and community health concerns, and how we might work on those through the OG project.
That’s when I started inquiring about public housing gardens I’d seen years ago, and the status of gardening in those communities now. Public housing authorities are in a position to institute some of the health and sustainability programs touted by the White House – community gardens, physical fitness, green living. Gardening is a great way to get multiple benefits (mental and physical!), and many residents are either knowledgeable about growing (real OG‘s!) or really, really ready to learn.
Since our first post, we’ve found twelve more gardens in Georgia, Massachusetts, Maine, California, Kansas and Tennessee. Check out the three at Lots to Gardens in Lewiston, Maine and The Farm in the City, at John Henry Hale Apartments in Nashville, Tennessee, and the training farm at the Juniper Gardens complex in Kansas City, Kansas. Pretty darn cool.
Wouldn’t it be great if all the housing authorities took a lead role on this? Encouraging residents to plant food? We’re going to be pushing for them to do so, and for bringing gardens to empty lots near housing developments. We’re also working on getting gardens into affordable housing developments (usually run by private and/or non-profit developers) and making residents aware of other food options in their neighborhoods. And, we’ll need your help.
Don’t worry, it’ll be easy peasy and make you feel good, too…