Neighborhood Gardens

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Welcome to Good Dirt Radio, reporting on positive change… taking root.

As the saying goes, history does sometimes repeat itself.  When it comes to the production of food, the new trend is an old one: Growing local.  An increasing number of citizens are reaping the benefits of producing food in neighborhood and community gardens.  It’s a conscious effort to consume less industrially grown food that may have more packaging, pesticides and herbicides. Compared to the commercial food industry, which ships food an average of 1500 miles to market, locally grown food can help reduce emissions of climate-changing gas. In many ways, our understanding of how, and where our food is grown is a key component of achieving sustainability.

People in the local food movement are bringing attention to various techniques from the past. ….for some its greenhouses, cold frames, or growing beds and for others, its teamwork and traditional gardens.  Gardeners claim their harvest produces healthier, tastier, more nutritious food, saves money and promotes health.

As with many older techniques, there is hard work involved.  But the rewards can be bountiful! In this report of our local food series, we visited with Bob Kauer who started the Shared Harvest Garden, in La Plata County, CO, in 2001.

Kauer:  Today we have sixty families that work this garden, probably over a hundred people and they can come anytime they want.  And they’re organized into twelve teams. Each team has a leader and a co-leader and then we have an overall leader of the garden.  Everything is grown organically and we have a great sense of community.  I love to have them come to my farm.  It’s a very tactile, sensory and esthetic experience to grow your own food and its very satisfying.  And you end up living much closer to nature.   

Kauer says each family puts in about 3-4 hours a week to establish the garden.  Then, much less as they harvest from mid June to mid November, often preserving food for winter use.

Kauer:  We have many children in the garden and they learn where food comes from.  And, they end up liking to eat vegetables too.  We also have classes from schools that come to the garden and, for many of them, it’s the first time that they’ve really experienced where food comes from.  One little kid walked through the corn and says ‘its just like being in a grocery store.’  They pick it and eat it raw…it’s a great experience for them.  And we have people in the garden who are in their eighties and in their early twenties.  Many of the people that are in their seventies and eighties and so on are very healthy and very spry from out here working in the garden in the fresh air and doing the physical labor with the garden.  

Enid Brodsky is a member of a seven family rural garden.  She describes a few of the benefits of her new local food currency.

Brodsky: The benefits have been so many things, including the ability to have organic food, which we’re all excited about.   We realize how like-minded we are about the importance of sustainability, about local growing, about local products and we’re getting so much benefit of the harvest.  We’re really pleased that we can just walk across the road and pick our vegetables every day.  There’s just that sense of freshness and nutrition and we don’t have to drive into town.  Its just been such a treat for all of us to be doing that.   And now we’re beginning to think about next year already and expanding it ’cause more of our neighbors are interested in it now.   

Brodsky thinks it creates positive neighborhood connections.

Brodsky:  When we began to share it with the other neighbors, they all got so enthusiastic, and so excited about it, that it just happened.  The idea that we’re working together on a project that we’re all gonna benefit from, we’re having so much fun working together, sharing all of this, having something that really brought us together as a neighborhood. 

Kauer:   One of the things that we hope will happen is that the children coming and working in this garden will continue this lifestyle for themselves and hopefully will create community gardens wherever they end up living and create the sense of community that we have from this one and produce healthy food for everyone.

Young or old, and in almost any location rural  or urban, your involvement in neighborhood gardens can offer healthy, moneysaving and sustainable benefits.  For more information about starting a neighborhood garden in your area, and more on our local food series, please visit our website at

Sustainability happens when millions of people learn about their options and change lifestyles. We urge you to get involved in issues you care about to help create a sustainable future.

I’m Tami Graham and I’m Tom Bartels.  Thanks for joining us on Good Dirt Radio… digging up good news… for a change.

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