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Nardozzi: Community gardening week

08/24/09 6:09PM By Charlie Nardozzi
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(HOST) For those who want to grow more of their own fruits, vegetables, and herbs, but don't have room to garden where they live, community gardening is a life saver. And Commentator Charlie Nardozzi is here to celebrate community gardeners... during National Community Garden Week.

(NARDOZZI) The National Gardening Association estimates there are more than 1 million community gardeners in the country. Also, in their most recent survey another 2 million people would community garden if they had access to land. Community gardens are good for people, neighborhoods, the land, and our world. Their popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years but has been kept alive by the tireless efforts of local grassroots organizations such as our own Friends of the Burlington Gardens. With the downturn in the economy and more people interested in growing some of their own food, community gardens are again on the rise.

Not only has the media noticed this upsurge in interest, the Obama administration has taken notice. Tom Vilsap, Secretary of Agriculture has proclaimed the the USDA will construct community gardens at their national and international facilities. The USDA's "People's Garden" in Washington DC recently donated more than 170 pounds of produce to a local food shelf. In honor of these efforts and to excite more people to garden in communities, Vilsap has proclaimed that this is National Community Garden Week.

A community garden is a great place for people with little access to land to grow their own fresh food. Many community gardens are located in cities and large towns. With more people living in cities worldwide than any time in human history, we need to make urban areas greener. It will be a necessity to start growing more food in cities. By 2050 there will be 9 billion people on the planet. In order to feed everyone, we'll have to produce more food over the course of the next 50 years than we have produced in the last 10,000 years combined. And there won't be enough traditional farms to produce it all. Community gardens can play a role. It's estimated the average community garden plot can produce more than $500 dollars worth of produce in one season.

Also, over the years I've seen how community gardens can transform neighborhoods. When a community garden gets organized amazing things can begin to happen. People come together to clean up empty lots and streets. Old and young people work together on projects. Urban crime, graffiti, and littering decrease. Property values in poor neighborhoods increase because people start taking better care of their homes. Kids start learning about healthy eating foods and the benefits of a clean environment. Community festivals start happening in the garden. The garden becomes a focal point for community gathering and organizing. Sometimes a community garden group starts taking on bigger civic development projects inspired with the success they've had in the garden.

So a community garden can be an essential part of a healthy city. Community gardeners will celebrate this week in the garden with the friends they've made while working there. Those who want to garden but don't have the land, can either find one nearby or maybe even start a new one. Every community garden can make a difference.

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