NEW YORK: With empty space in the Bronx and other unused land pockets, gardeners from low-income neighborhoods have mobilized their community gardens and crops to create more than a dozen “farm centers”.
Many years ago, some realized that their small gardens could grow enough peppers to produce fresh soups: Bronx Hot Sos, a real profit from sales in their community.
During the outbreak, the Bronx Farm Centers reaffirmed its power by producing health-promoting crops such as garlic, cabbage, and green leafy vegetables.
The trick is, how can we really be patient with the epidemic? Says Raymond Figueroa-Reyes, president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition.
When the plague broke out, urban agriculture became increasingly productive. “People saw that the donations were not enough in quantity or quality, and there was no respect for that kind of charity.”
Agricultural centers are part of an urban gardening campaign that encourages poor neighborhoods to produce fresh food.
Areas where healthy, fresh food is scarce (both urban and rural) are called “food deserts,” and they are prone to diabetes and other diseases such as high blood pressure and obesity. In cities where many seem to be inseparable from deep racial and social issues, some community leaders choose terms such as “food prisons” or “food apartheid.”
Ron Finley, of Los Angeles, has been at the forefront of city gardening for years. He sees the garden as a medicine and an act of disobedience.
“Raising your own food is like printing your own money,” says Finley, who manages the nonprofit Ron Finley project. “It’s not just about food, it’s about freedom. It is our revolution and our ecology. ”
Finley grew up in south-central Los Angeles, where he had to drive 45 minutes to find fresh tomatoes. Through gardening, his efforts to revitalize communities include planting vegetables on neglected sidewalks and other unused land, and providing online education to the world’s audience about the power of food.
Millions of Americans live in slums without healthy food choices. Similar neighborhoods are magnet for fast food restaurants and packaged foods in drugstores and convenience stores.
“Driving is killing more people in our community than driving,” says Finley. “I want people to come back to reality, touch the ground and take some of what was taken. When you sow, you will increase. It is a currency. It is a treasure. That is power. It is more than food. ”
Karen Washington, who has spent decades promoting urban agriculture in the Bronx, says it is about “food justice.” (She helped coordinate the pepper production that led to the Bronx Hot South, where she worked with her company, Small Ax Pepper, now making fresh soup with community-grown peppers from Queens, Detroit, Chicago, Oakland and other cities.
“Healthy food with clean water is a human right,” he said.
A member of the New York Botanical Garden Board, Washington has worked with neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens, and helped launch an urban farm market that produces affordable fresh produce on community gardens or northern farms. The Bronx.
She co-founded Black Urban Farmers and supported the Black Farmers Fund, which aims to provide capital access to black farmers and entrepreneurs.
Covide has had a huge impact on people who want to produce their own food, and she says Washington has seen more people growing food on the city streets and across the country.
It was really urgent in the early stages of COVID before the vaccines were released. “If we are fighting viruses, we need to start eating healthier, especially if we have a lot of diabetes and obesity in these neighborhoods,” he said.
“People have to go to these unused areas and produce food,” he said. There is a concerted effort to develop more food for the growing immune system and to set up farming centers to reach where it is most needed.
Through the Bronx Green-Up program, the New York Vegetable Garden has long provided technical support to community gardens. The outbreak intensified efforts by working directly with community farms during the outbreak. Organize bi-weekly awareness conferences to help with problem solving, resource sharing and harvest distribution, and present more than 10,000 plant and vegetable seedlings.
“Recognizing that malnutrition is always a big issue in the Bronx, we are meeting with long-term community partners at the beginning of the epidemic,” said program director Ursula Chans.
“Certainly there are a lot of community gardening and a lot of urban farming right now,” she says.