Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Urban Gardens

I recently received the following e-mail from a friend who is pursuing his degree in City Planning at The Ohio State University. The excitement in the e-mail is contagious and it sounds like an idea worth exploring:

Ben, Ben, BEN!!!!
Today we learned about urban garden contests in class. I wanted to contact Janko and suggest that he write an article on how they would benefit the city of Youngstown. Perhaps if you are out of ideas or interested you could. They have many benefits such as building community, learning (people have been known to research gardening ideas in local libraries), a sense of pride, bringing more people out of their homes and even greater security (more eyes on the street). I believe it happened in either St. Louis or Chicago.
The study was on teenagers and they were given neighborhood gardens to tend and compete with. The teenagers ended up cleaning up the areas around the garden, researching gardening techniques and protecting their neighborhoods because of it.
Just a would even help in a market which ppl could grow food locally and perhaps a co-op could be created to sell the produce. The contest would provide healthy competition and could become a yearly activity that people look forward too. At the end there could even be a large fall harvest and festival perhaps. People could show pumpkins, sell cider and the like.
The best thing about it is that it's a cheap, cheap way to foster pride, education, community, security and to bring food (though I admit maybe not a significant amount) to give to the less fortunate. The best thing is that Youngstown has TONS of land around the city...these urban gardens could become the social gathering place of the neighborhood and could also include (down the road) playgrounds so that parents can watch their children while gardening or small stands (or actual shops/buildings nearby) to see the produce. What do you think? There are many holes in the idea but it is cheap and do-able in a city such as Youngstown.

I did a little bit of digging on the subject and found numerous hits when searching for "Urban Garden Competitions." The New York Times had a nice article on the subject and I especially like the different categories that are offered on the City of Sydney website.

1 comment:

sheilak said...

I have been a proponent of this idea for several years, as I have spent many times exploring the urban gardens in NYC. Check this out...
(one of my favorites!) I would love to work with people on this if I move back to Youngstown this August. Even from a distance I can help with research and networking contacts, etc. There is another less organized more subversive way to beautify...look this up "guerilla gardening" or see
let me know what you think.