Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Community gardens- an Earth Day dream

We lived at a wonderful apartment a couple of years ago that allowed us to start a community garden. I don't have that now, but I've been dreaming about it. How much of our lives and the world could we change if we embraced both old and new gardening techniques?  These are some of the ideas I sit and wonder how much impact they could have on the food supply chain, the local economies, the well being of residents, and pollution levels.

  • Companion planting to maximize growth, pest control, and beauty of gardens.  For example, borage and strawberries, tomatoes and basil, and the Three Sisters- corns, squash and beans.  Other plants, like marigolds, onions and garlic are also known to deter some animals from feasting on gardens.
  • Vertical gardening-  several companies have begun marketing devices for utilizing vertical, rather than horizontal spaces for planting.  Herbs, small fruits, flowers and salads could be grown this way with less space, less water and better harvests.  If building faces were utilized, I think a great variety of plants could be urban harvested- cutting down on travel resources and time needed to provide food.  It would also be a way to decrease carbon dioxide pollution by way of photosynthesis.  Vertical gardens on buildings would also act as insulation against noise and heat transfer, making buildings more energy efficient.
  • Empty lots, especially in areas where many residents have lower access to fresh, inexpensive produce could be turned into well thought out community growing spaces  in which people traded their labor for a share of the harvest.  It would be a way for the emotional benefits associated with gardening to be realized for renters, for the poor and for city dwellers.  
  • Gray water recycling, especially if harsh detergents are not used, is an excellent way to reuse some of our waste water and still have green landscaping.  If collection, aeration and distribution systems were installed on homes and offices, a great deal of water could be saved, reducing droughts and water transportation fees.
In my mind, shared resources and shared access and ownership, of food supplies would engage people with one another; it would allow for agricultural trades to be opened to urban people, and it would both beautify and cleanse pollution from the landscape.

Taking care of the planet is  something that is both practical and spiritually rewarding.  Everyone needs fresh air, clean water and food; how these needs are addressed can be changed to create a system in which more people have better access to fresh foods and a cleaner environment.

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