Why Should I Care? Imagine a world without fresh fruits and vegetables. This is the reality for many families throughout the country that live in communities without access to fresh produce. Limited access to a supermarket or large grocery store that sells fresh produce affects up to eight percent of the population, overwhelmingly in low-income areas. Where low-income families have access to stores that sell fresh produce, their high price often keeps them out of reach despite their presence on the shelves. One way to address this problem is to encourage community gardening in both urban and rural areas. During the Second World War, as a way to encourage the American public to grow their own food and supplement their rations, the Department of Agriculture established a campaign to convert lawns into "victory gardens". This campaign sparked the first community gardens in public spaces that people collectively tended. By 1943, 20 million households had set up victory gardens, supplying more than 40 percent of the nation's produce. Areas that have limited access to fresh, healthy foods often overlap with areas that have high rates of obesity and chronic, diet-related disease. This phenomenon suggests that a lack of affordable fresh produce is negatively affecting the quality of life in low-income areas in a broad variety of ways.
Gather produce from a farmer's fields and ensure it is donated to a local food bank or pantry To learn more about gleaning and connect with local organizations that are active in rescuing produce that would otherwise go to waste, visit: http://www.endhunger.org/
Help your local farmers obtain the certification
to accept WIC or Seniors Farmers Market Vouchers as well as EBT cards If you sell produce at a farmers market, or know someone who does, ensure that you or they can accept WIC and Seniors Farmers Market Vouchers. For more information visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/
Help your local farmers market be able to accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program For more information visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/
Impact of Volunteering By getting involved in community gardening, you can help supply yourself and your neighbors with an important source of affordable, fresh, healthy food. Working together, we can build much stronger local and regional food systems that will contribute to feeding Americans across our country healthier food.
Success Stories What was once an unused vacant city lot is now The New Roots Community Farm, a 2.3 acre parcel of land in San Diego and project of the International Rescue Committee. The eighty families who till the land are from Cambodia, Somalia, Burma, Laos, Uganda, Congo, Vietnam, Mexico and Guatemala. Each participating family has been allocated 600 sq. ft. of growing space and can produce approximately $500 worth of fresh, organic produce each season on a lot this size. For a family of four on a food stamp budget, this represents a 40 percent increase in their overall food resources! The success of the farm is largely due to the efforts of many stakeholders including corporations, community groups, schools, landscapers, churches, and individuals in efforts towards community improvement. But beyond food production, New Roots has also become a hub for community building among refugees, new immigrants and neighbors. In only a few short months, more than 200 individuals have volunteered at the farm, 20 youth have interned for more than 140 hours each, and participants have attended workshops on water conservation, organic methods, soil fertility and composting. Here the farmers cultivate not just corn, beans, tomatoes and eggplants, but also a deeper understanding of their neighbors' cultures. http://www.theirc.org/us-program/us-phoenix-az/new-roots-farm-program-grows-irc
Plant a Row began in Anchorage, Alaska, in the garden column of Jeff Lowenfels, a former Garden Writers Association president. He asked his readers to plant a row of vegetables for Bean's Cafe, a local feeding program. The initiative was so successful that he introduced it to Garden Writers Association as a national program. It took five years to reach the first million pounds of donated produce. The next million was reached in only two years, and in the next eight years, more than a million pounds of food was donated each year. This is a significant contribution considering that each pound of produce supplements 4 meals. Since 1995, over 14 million pounds of produce providing more than 50 million meals have been donated by American gardeners. http://www.gardenwriters.org/gwa.php?p=par/par_campaign.html