Mexico City’s government is backing the current growth of community vegetable gardens in its neighborhoods – home to more than 20 million residents – as a way of ensuring poorer families have access to fresh fruit and vegetables.
Soaring global food costs have pushed vegetable prices up by 17 per cent in Mexico over the past year, according to Central Bank data, and inhabitants of the nation’s capital are being encouraged to grow their own tomatoes, squash, cabbages and beans in order to get by.
This urban garden program began by setting up vegetable patches in the city’s most vulnerable communities – where income levels are very low and many people do not have steady jobs – and has since expanded to all city quarters.
With the support of Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, the government currently supplies all the seeds for planting and agronomists are available to provide technical support and to teach communities how to maintain the gardens and to make compost and organic fertilizers.
Since last year, 20 community food gardens have been established, often in areas previously used as rubbish dumps, and the government plans to establish at least another twenty – with some also growing medicinal plants.
As the impact of rising food prices are increasingly felt by rich and poor nations alike, governments and communities aiming to increase food security for low-income households are initiating similar projects in cities across the globe.
In Detroit, USA, the Youth Growing Detroit program is involving young volunteers in community gardens across the city. The Brightmoor garden counts 19 volunteers and, depending on the hours they work in the garden and how much of the produce is sold at local markets, the young people share the profits from sales. The program, backed by the Detroit Agriculture Network and Greening of Detroit, aims to use these urban agriculture projects as a way of reconnecting people with the roots of food.
In addition on July 1, the first victory garden since 1943 was planted in front of the San Francisco City Hall in order to have fresh produce ready for harvest during Slow Food Nation, (www.slowfoodnation.org) the national event being held at the end of August. To read more click here.
For more on this topic, an urban food project story will be reported here everyday this week.