Community Gardening

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If you don't have space for your own garden, group gardening may well be your path to growing your own vegetables.

A few years ago, surveys indicated that over 30 million Americans would like to grow their own food but couldn't because of lack of space. Since that time, literally hundreds of communities have begun garden projects almost everywhere across the United States.

The group garden itself is simply a piece of land divided into individual plots that are rented or given to people who don't own their own land. In any project there may be as few as six gardeners or as many as several hundred.

In the Troy-Albany-Schenectady, New York, area, for instance, gardeners rent plots in sites coordinated by the Capital District Community Gardens, Inc.

In Burlington, Vermont, the Burlington Parks Commission divided a half-acre site into 24 plots at Cliffside Park. To supplement this, the Burlington Parks Commission ran ads in the local paper asking for free garden plots. The Cliffside project attracted a side cross-section of people, including retirees, a stockbroker's wife, medical students, businessmen and others. More recently, the Burlington Department of Parks and Recreation began a project called the Burlington Area Community Gardens, six rent-free sites within the Burlington city limits.

In Boston, Fenway Gardens, composed of four hundred 15 x 30 foot plots, was established a number of years ago in the Back Bay area. There is no charge for gardening here, but the gardeners are encouraged to become members of the Fenway Garden Society.

"Without these gardens," says the Administrative Secretary of the Boston Parks Department, "a lot of people in the city would never get out of the house."

Besides communities and nonprofit organizations, many business organizations also sponsor community gardening projects. In Louisville, Kentucky, the Citizen's Fidelity Bank recently began a project that attracted over 3,000 gardeners. "These gardens," the bank estimates, "saved over a quarter of a million dollars based on retail food prices."

Numerous large companies also offer group gardening opportunities for their employees. Dow Chemical Company employees, for instance, have been gardening on company land for 34 years, and at RCA's David Sarnoff Research Center, employees share 120 garden plots that are plowed in the spring by the company.

In many cases, these group gardens are sponsored or coordinated by the City Parks and Recreation Department. In others, they are backed by local businesses, the YWCA churches, and many other organizations. In Appleton, Wisconsin, the Sacred Heart Church's garden project rented seven acres of land (tagged "The Papal Gardens') from a local farmer and divided it into 259 10 x 100 foot plots. And in Asheville, North Carolina, an enthusiastic local gardener convinced the YWCA to transform a weed lot into a community garden project for retired people.

In some cases. University Extension Services, various local government agencies, and even the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, get involved, giving expert advice and money. And the National Gardening Association, a nonprofit organization with offices in Burlington, Vermont, publishes information, considers research, and provides consulting services to community garden projects all across the country.

Community gardening is not expanding as it once was, but it is still going strong in many areas. If you are interested in joining one of these projects in your own area, call your local Parks and Recreation Department. If it does not sponsor a gardening program, it will be able to refer you to a group gardening project within your own community.

Figure 1.07

NUTRITIONAL VALUE FOR GARDEN VEGETABLES

Figure 1.07

Food

Cal

Potas

Vit

Vit

Vit

Nia

Vit

100-Gram (3.5 ozl Sample

Energy

Protein

Fat

Fiber

cium

Iron

Sodium

sium

A

B,

Bj

cin

C

Raw, Edible Portion

Cals.

Grams

Grams

Grams

ML

ML

ML

ML

IU

ML

ML

ML

ML

1, Green bean

32

1.9

0.2

1.0

56

0.8

7

243

600

08

.11

0.5

19

2. Beets

43

1,6

0.1

0.8

16

0.7

60

335

20

.03

.05

0.4

10

3. Beet greens

24

2.2

0.3

1.3

119

3,3

130

570

6100

,10

22

0.4

30

4 Brussel Sprouts

45

4.9

0.4

1,6

36

1.5

14

390

550

.10

.16

0.9

102

5. Chard, Swiss

25

2.4

0.3

0.8

88

3.2

147

550

6500

.06

.17

0.5

32

6. Collards

45

4.8

08

12

250

1.5

430

9300

.16

.31

1.7

152

7. Com, Sweet

96

3.5

1.0

0.7

3

0.7

Trace

280

400

.15

.12

1.7

12

8. Cress, garden

32

2,6

0.7

1.1

81

1.3

14

606

9300

,08

.26

1.0

69

9. Eggplant

25

1.2

0.2

0.9

12

0,7

2

214

10

.05

.05

0.6

5

10. Kale, leaves with stems

38

4.2

0.8

1.3

179

2.2

75

378

8900

-

-

125

11. Muskmelon—Cantaloupe

30

0.7

01

0.3

14

0.4

12

251

3400

04

.03

0.6

33

12. Okra

36

2.4

0.3

1.0

92

0.6

3

249

520

.17

.21

1.0

31

13 Parsley

44

3.6

0.6

1.5

203

6.2

45

727

8500

.12

.26

1.2

172

14. Parsnips

76

1.7

0.5

2.0

50

0.7

12

541

30

.08

.09

0.2

16

15 Peppers, hot, immature green

37

13

02

1.8

10

0.7

-

770

.09

.06

17

235

16. Peppers, red, no seeds

65

2.3

0.4

2.3

16

1.4

25

564

21600

.10

.20

2.9

369

17. Pumpkin

26

1.0

0.1

1 1

21

0.8

1

340

1600

.05

.11

0.6

9

18. Squash, summer, all varieties

19

1.1

0.1

0.6

28

0.4

1

202

410

.05

.09

1.0

22

19. Squash, winter, all varieties

50

1.4

0.3

1.4

22

0.6

1

369

3700

.05

.11

0.6

13

20. Tomatoes, green

24

1,2

0.2

0.5

13

0.5

3

244

270

.06

.04

0.5

20

21. Watermelon

26

0.5

0.2

0.3

7

0.5

1

100

590

.03

.03

0.2

7

Compiled from USDA Handbook No. 8, Composition of Foods

Compiled from USDA Handbook No. 8, Composition of Foods

Cooking Vegetables — What's Best For You

With most vegetables you'll get the most food value by eating them raw. Cooking vegetables in water causes the water-soluble vitamins and minerals to break down or leach out

Raw sweet com is especially delicious when eaten uncooked, fresh off the plant Other vegetables which have good raw flavor include broccoli, peas, summer squash and green beans. Serve them with a dip as a finger food for snacks or hors d' oeuvres.

Cooking Vegetables — What's Best For You

With most vegetables you'll get the most food value by eating them raw. Cooking vegetables in water causes the water-soluble vitamins and minerals to break down or leach out

Raw sweet com is especially delicious when eaten uncooked, fresh off the plant Other vegetables which have good raw flavor include broccoli, peas, summer squash and green beans. Serve them with a dip as a finger food for snacks or hors d' oeuvres.

Select a spot in full sunlight near a water hose, on well-drained soil, away from weeds and tree roots.

  • Remove sod with a spade and put in a compost pile to decay or rot
  • Spread compost or rotted manure.

If you have begun your new garden in the fall, your next step is to plow, spade or roto-till your garden deeply (8 to 10 inches).

If you have begun your new garden in the spring, your next step is to spade or roto-till the soil about 4 to 6 inches deep to prepare a bed for your seeds.

Quiz Answers: 1. Sweet Corn 2. Kale 3. Hot Red Peppers 4. Crisphead Lettuce 5. Pumpkin and Squash Seeds

6. Sunflower seeds

Source: national Garden Bureau

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