Community gardens are started with the best of intentions – to get people in the community working together and to provide healthy food access to places where there usually is none.
The issue of food deserts is a real one in many parts of the country and addressing it takes more than throwing money at the problem.
We recently took a tour of South Dallas with Tyrone Day to highlight these issues. In the video, you’ll see what a well-funded community garden started out as, and within a year, what it became.
So What Can We Do?
In Tyrone’s experience, he believes it’s a lack of long term funding and education of the leaders who run these gardens. The reality is that is no one is being paid to manage the garden long after the ribbon-cutting, so the burden of maintenance burns out the volunteers who raised their hand to oversee it.
We all wish we had community gardens spread all over – at apartment complexes, alongside parks and especially where access to healthy food is out of reach to people who don’t have the means to drive or afford transportation.
So until we can find ways to make community gardens part of the local budgets to pay for a manager, or until we do some serious brainstorming on ways to keep people engaged, it will be an uphill climb.
Healthy Gardens, Healthy Community
One idea we have is to use community gardens as entry points to educate and demonstrate how healthier eating can lead to a more productive life for those that get involved. The exercise and the change in diet will no doubt have people feeling the difference. When we can feel the difference inside, it is that much more of a motivator to keep going.