Urban Community Gardens, Co-ops, Communal Farming and Farmers’ Markets: Healthy Food Production for Our Future

J. Lee


Community Gardens, Community Farms and Farmers’ markets

A trend that is gaining momentum is community gardens, co-ops, communal farms and farmers’ markets. They have always been around, but the idea has become more mainstream. They can be found throughout the United States.

Community Gardens

Community gardens, also known as co-op’s, are comprised of land purchased by a group of people or local governments. Regulations can be a challenge, but many governments will assist those who are serious.

They are developed so that a group of people can produce vegetables and fruit. Some gardens are shared and some consist of lots maintained by individuals within a shared garden.

Wikipedia ‘Community gardening’ – A community garden is a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people. Community gardens utilize either individual or shared plots on private or public land while producing fruit, vegetables, and/or plants that are grown for attractive appearances.

Video: How To Make A Community Garden For Everyone – Sandpoint, Idaho’s incredible community garden flourishes and nourishes the local community in many ways.

Many consumers have concerns about the gardening practices of larger commercial farms. A large segment of the public seeks natural and organic alternatives. These folks also want to eliminate eating food processed with GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) and toxic pesticides.

Other issues for the consumers and those who harvest are concerns about soil. They want to create gardens that are rich in minerals. Today’s commercial farming industries have been over-farmed and many crops lack minerals in their soil.

Eat Balanced – The minerals in our diet are essential for a variety of bodily functions. They are important for building strong bones and teeth, blood, skin, hair, nerve function, muscle and for metabolic processes such as those that turn the food we eat into energy.

Video: Community Gardens: Different Types – “There are many types of community gardens including: neighborhood gardens, allotment gardens, communal gardens, children’s gardens, and gardens that provide vocational training. Each type has benefits and concerns which should be considered before starting a community garden. Produced by the Department of Communications at Kansas State University.”

San Diego Community Garden Network – Our mission is to help create, support and grow community gardens that enrich their neighborhoods by enhancing food security, promoting a sustainable environment and fostering community based educational opportunities and community building. 

Photo 1 – Detroit                                     Photo 2 – The Bronx                               Photo 3 – San Francisco

      

Photo 4 – Boston                   Photo 5 – Brooklyn                                           Photo 6 – Chicago

      

What is a Co-op? What makes a co-op unique is that it is owned and democratically governed by its members, the people who use its products or services, or are employed by the business.  The purpose of the enterprise is to not to accumulate profit for investors, but to meet the goals and aspirations of its members.  For this reason, any surplus generated by a co-op is reinvested in the business or returned to the members based on their use of its services.  Membership in the co-op is obtained through the purchase of a member share in the business, which does not change in value (in contrast to publicly traded corporations) and entitles the member to one vote in matters that come before the members.

Community Farms

Some community farms consist of communal living where chores are shared. People live together in a communal community. Housing can either be shared within a large farm house or in smaller bungalows.

Community farms have a shared purpose, common interests and defined objectives. The main purposes are to share housing costs and to produce food.

In addition to growing crops, they can integrate animals into the equation such as cattle, chickens and goats which produce meat, eggs, milk, cheese, etc. Horses might be used to help with plowing.

Some farms may include beekeeping for the production of local raw honey.

      

Farm – Kauai, HI                   Farm – Deadwood, OR        Farm – Coastal CA

The Ecology Center ’10 Ways Urban Farms Benefit The Community’ – From backyard beekeeping to roof-top vegetable gardens, community spaces, front yard orchards, and window boxes — urban farmers grow where they are.

GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms)

GMO’s have been also called ‘frankenfood’, because food has been engineered as was Frankenstein. It was introduced in the late 1990’s. We should always be leery when man intercedes and alters the natural process.

Many studies have proven GMO’s are unhealthy. They can cause serious medical conditions such as nutritional deficiencies, autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, birth defects and cancer.

GMO’s are dangerous, but our government does not require labeling. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require a single safety study. It is very lax in listening to and addressing health concerns.

It is suspected that GMO’s are harming the environment. They might be the culprit behind the death of insect species, butterflies, bees and birds.

Farmers Markets

A healthy trend in many communities are farmers’ markets. It is a place were local growers bring their fruits, vegetables, fresh cut flowers, local raw honey, eggs and local handmade crafts for sale within urban areas.

Products sold are organic; they are GMO and pesticide free.

Some farmers bring eggs for sale from their free range chickens.

Those with canning skills sell jars of fruit such as peaches, nectarines, apricotspears, plums, pumpkin and cherries.

Berries such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, elderberries, raspberries and can be used to make jams and jelly.

Vegetables canned can include cucumbers/pickles, tomatoes, green beans, beets, carrots, potatoes and corn.

Canned goods alleviate the fears of BPA (bisphenol-A) found in commercial canned foods. BPA is a chemical evident in many commercial products. Glass containers are always an excellent option over traditional canning methods.

     

 San Diego County Certified Farmers’ Markets – “Buy Local San Diego Produce by visiting one of the Certified Farmers’ Markets (CFM) in San Diego County allows you to experience agriculture. Farmers’ Markets provide venues for farmers to sell directly to consumers and supports small farming operations.”

101 Best Farmers Markets in America 2016 – “Take a look at the rankings to see how your own farmers market fared, and let us know if we missed any of your favorites!”

In Summary

As you can see, choices are becoming more abundant for community involvement as well as providing healthy alternatives. A positive outcome is how these options bring communities together for a common goal.

Neighbors who were once isolated now have the chance to meet neighbors while achieving these shared goals.  It is a great opportunity for youth to learn farming skills while getting exercise, versus the usual activity of computer games and texting.

You will never regret eating healthy while meeting people with common interests.

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