Community Gardens as Contributors to Food Security

15.03.2019 in Research Proposal
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Several decades ago city farming seemed like a weird idea, and the poor people probably did not consider urban gardens as a way to overcome poverty and food insecurity. Within the past decade, individuals and communities in countries like Canada and the U.S. have increasingly turned to urban gardens as one of their food sources. These urban gardens are reminiscent of the post-war small land allotments, where food-deprived communities grew the necessary supplies of food. Nowadays the most common causes of food insecurity are the changes in food prices, economic downturns, and various environmental changes that affect agricultural production. It is estimated that up to 15 % of the U.S. households did not have sufficient food in 2010, and, in 2004, over 9 % of Canadian households were affected by food insecurity. Already in 2002, about 40 % of people living in the Toronto area produced at least some own food in urban gardens. While the underlying causes for pursuing the community-level production of food may vary, the newly popular urban gardens have the potential to contribute to food security in the communities and households that experience poverty or poor nutrition.

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The research paper by the University of Chicago Program on Global Environment addresses the issue of food security in the New York City area and suggests that the urban gardens are one solution to food insecurity, that is particularly useful for low-income city areas. Since not all poor people live in urban areas, urban gardening is insufficient to ensure the overall food security of the urban and non-urban areas. Still, the urban gardens deliver fresh produce to the people who can not buy it and ensure that community members have the “food preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle”.

The blog article by the community gardening practitioner maintains that urban gardens are a considerable source of fresh food, that allows only a small part of the Oakland community to have sufficient and diverse food. The blog’s author, who pursued urban gardening, observed its positive outcomes, including how individuals grow and consume food like vegetables and fruits. And while this article lacks sufficient evidence that urban gardens secure food for those affected by food insecurity, it shows that urban gardens can help at least some people living in the communities that follow urban gardening.

Robin Kortright and Sarah Wakefield state that people of all income levels grow their own food and “enhance the accessibility” of food and healthy diets. While the authors claim that the method of food production is important for food security, their study is based on a premise that social and environmental factors should determine how food is produced and delivered. Nevertheless, they found that many urban citizens are self-sufficient during the harvest time, which could be a justification for the governmental programs aiding the poor outside the harvest seasons.

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Partial food security can be ensured by growing fruits and vegetables in urban gardens. The community members can benefit from growing their own food in many ways: by diversifying their diets, expanding food choices, and producing food that is sufficient during the harvest seasons. One community land allotment will not solve the community’s food security problem, and this was illustrated by the case of an Oakland community garden practitioner. Nevertheless, as more people start growing their own food, for a variety of reasons, the whole community can benefit by achieving seasonal food security, improved diets, and by exchanging or donating grown foods to the needy. Thus, by adopting urban gardening, more people, including the poor, can rely on community-grown food to secure their food intake and meet their dietary needs.

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