Alternative Community Farmer/WPB.FL

  (WPB, Florida)
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TopSIXCommunity Garden Challenges and Solutions.A personal experience in S.Florida community gardens

The community garden experience here in South Florida started in the late 1990 as far as I am concerned.

I witnessed the creation of a community garden at a crime infested site here in South Florida.I was lucky to have a major Newspaper "Sun sentinel" run a coverage story .They sent a columnist and a photographer and posted the article at the Front of the local section with a full scope of two pages.I was also lucky to have one of my workshops  documented  by the Lake Worth Forum at another community garden in Lake Worth .Both gardens disappeared from reality later on , but I benefited from the experience .Later on I was also involved in more than other six community gardens , one of which is still current...But...I have witnessed why so many community gardens fail because of so many reasons mainly :

1-Lack of local government support in providing budgets to create community garden or donate land.The current garden I am involved in is a backyard of a home owner!

2-Lack of educational programs at the community gardens .Being a certified master gardener since 2001 , I have noticed that no serious programs are offered at the site of community gardens by edcational institutes like colleges or schools of agriculture.Merely efforts are made by individuals to educate the public at the site of community gardens.Other programs are offered at the local  Extension Programs of some Horticulure active regional colleges.

3-Lack of budgets and financing at the federal level to support community gardens where local governments fail to do so.There are many stories about the closure of down town Miami Community garden besides others in S.Florida due to inavailability of financing support etc..Solution :Pump in federal stimulus and financial support to CG. 

4-Politics plays a significant role sometimes in the creation of some community gardens where a certain group uses its GREEN efforts as a propaganda to influence votes and credibility among locals..but then the garden ceases to exist like what happened to a local garden I was involved with long time ago.Solution:Keep politics to the politicians and gardening for gardeners!

5-Churches that provide land for community garden sometimes have better luck to keep the garden existing . I have a bitter taste from a couple of churches that did not do enough to keep their GREEN Promises and faltered to keep their gardens existing .Most churches I worked with did not have a budget or a program.Just wanted to explore !Mainly depending on  flow of funds ,volunteers ,supporting efforts for experienced and educated coordinators who have the ability and time besides experience to do the DIRTY HANDS ON GARDENING(Meaning to let their hands into the SOIL!!)etcSolution:Create more community gardens at the empty lots of churches that grow just GRASS!

6-Soup kitchens benefit most from community gardens besides the volunteer gardeners who tend to harvest crops of organic locally grown vegetables to save on the grocery bill and stay healthy  through gardening exercises.I donated organic crops for a local soup kitchen until I lost my half acre lot to the land fill.Solution:Create more backyard gardens at the Soup Kirchen Locations whenever abvailable and encourage unemployed volunteers to work the land and grow their own food!


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