Urban Gardens in Oakland

There are many connections we make throughout a lifetime from plants and animals to humans and the environment but one connection never assumed is between the satisfaction gardening brings and the relationships they can create for communities. While gardening and agriculture are not a new phenomenon, neighborhoods and cities around the world are gradually reaping the benefits that urban gardens provide. As sustainability becomes an integral tool for present households, it is crucial for urban cities to adopt the concept of public gardens in order to construct and maintain community friendships.

Community and participation are absent terms in today’s society. Relationships and community communication are increasingly low and depressing. Whether the problem is the result of work obsession, loss of time, or interest; getting people into conversation and engagement is crucial for the overall link between neighborhoods and households. Citizens need a productive reason to tear themselves away from their televisions and computers in order to become active. There are many strategies that cities may use to connect people but one tool that Oakland uses is urban gardening.

Oakland’s City Slicker Farms operates six gardens and People’s Grocery oversees two gardens in West Oakland.  Public gardens offer a focal point for community organizing, improved neighborhood morale, and lowers crime by increasing the sense of eyes on the street.  With 60% poverty rate, Oakland residents are in need of the urban farm push which not only feeds residents but ensures sustainability. Low-income households are increasingly left with cheap factory made fast foods. Bringing in urban gardens would promote healthy eating habits and the consumption of local organic, unprocessed foods.



Adios Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are bullies who dominate the environment, recycling machines, oceans, storm drains, and wildlife. According to an article on Reader titled “Berkeley Farmers’ Markets Bag Plastic, First in Nation” plastic bags are even poisonous to humans. Who would have thought? Even after the 400-1000 years plastic bags take to decompose, their “constituent chemicals remain in the environment long after”. So why do plastic bags remain in our grocery stores and consignment shops? After working in a specialty market for two years, it was evident how wasteful people really are. Many customers would buy one small item, and request a bag, which made it clear how uneducated some people are about the negative impact plastic has on our planet. Plastic bags are hard to recycle and easily blow into trees and waterways where they can potentially kill marine life. As Americans we must rely on the health of ourselves and the planet. It is crucial that we cure ourselves of the plastic bag syndrome. Many earth-friendly companies now carry compostable plastic bags or offer a 5 cent reward for supplying your own bags which is a step in the right direction but we must ban plastic bags all together. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy watching surfers ride the waves, not plastic bags.


Gathering Gardens

During an afternoon of sustainable reading, I came across an interesting website called “Civil Eats” which is based on building community gardens. Founder of Civil Eats, Miles Gordon has helped assemble 16 community gardens which are free to the public. Many of the edible gardens are located on school campuses, community centers, and senior centers which provide an on-going network of new gardens. Through 10 years of hard work, Gordon now has over 65 gardens in Mendocino County. In a recent interview Gordon was asked what inspires him to provide his hard work, he replied:

“Being in a community garden on a Sunday evening filled with families, tending gardens, talking story, sharing food, it’s beautiful. Whenever I need inspiration I go out the garden and I talk to people. It’s the community spirit and the feeling of joy that comes from connecting people back to the garden and their communities at the same time.”

In my East Bay neighborhood, I come across many vacated lots that usually consist of floating plastic bags and weeds which in my opinion, are a waste of space. These open lots lead me to believe that every community could use a generous guy like Miles Gordon. What community wouldn’t want a place to gather free veggies and friends?