How Vegetables Can Transform Our Community
Inspired by this TED blog post on the transformative power of vegetables, these videos begin to explore the deeply positive impact growing vegetables can have on our communities: local, national and global.
First Rodger Dioron explains our situation, and it doesn’t look good: To keep up with population growth, more food will have to be produced worldwide in the next 50 years than has been over the last 10,000 years combined. Not only that, but it seems we will have to do it with less oil, less farmland and less genetic diversity. In addition, the population is at it’s most unhealthy. While some are suffering from diseases of over consumption, others suffer from daily hunger. Dioron points out that when we go to the grocery store, we have more food choices than ever before – but we have lost most control over and connection with our food. So how can we improve our situation?
According to Dioron, the answer lies in GARDENS. He encourages the public to redefine what good food is, and redefine their living spaces by turning lawns and backyards into kitchen gardens.
Benefits of Gardens:
- • Grow safe, delicious, healthy food
- • Foster the growth of health children
- • Give power back to the consumer
- • Increase economic savings for families (Dioron has saved over $2000)
- • Foster a greater sense of community
- • A more practical and purposeful use of space than regular lawns
Presently, only 2% of produce comes from kitchen gardens, and Dioron would like to see that figure at 25%, which he believes is realistic – pointing out that at the peak of the Victory Garden movement the figure was at 40%. Increasing access to foods that are healthy for us and the planet is the biggest challenge we face. Kitchen gardens could very well be a key component of the solution and represent a cost effective investment.
Stephen Ritz is a 6th grade teacher in the south Bronx, the poorest Congressional district in America. Obesity is an epidemic, almost all his students live below the poverty level, many homeless or in foster care. Most students don’t graduate high school, and even fewer attend college. Ritz was determined to prove to his students that they didn’t have to leave the Bronx to get an education, earn a living and have a brighter future. He developed EDIBLE WALLS which have transformed a generation and a community.
- • Grow plentiful vegetables and herbs
- • Can be installed indoors/outdoors
- • Students learn how to install
- • Gives students new purpose, allows them to earn wage
- • Improves health of students and community
- • Installed in over 200 NY schools
- • Walls produce 25,000+ lbs. of produce per year
- • Produce goes back to schools, homeless shelters (where many of the students eat)
Ritz’s students garnered national attention, and have installed edible walls on such buildings as the The Hancock Building in Chigaco and NY’s Rockefeller Center. Not only has it changed these students’ community, but this movement has changed their futures. Since starting the Edible Wall Program, Ritz’s class attendance went from 40% to 93%, with 100% of his first group of students now in their first year of college. As Ritz exclaims, “If you can grow in the Bronx, you can grow anywhere.”
In just over 3 years, Pam Warhurst has transformed her small town of Todmorden, England. She rallied a group of volunteer citizens to start planting vegetables in public spaces, permission not always granted. As Warhurst explains, these citizens were ready to start a revolution: to change the way people see public spaces, to reinvent community, to take responsibility for their own health, and to help foster a deeper connection to their food. Today, Todmorden is changed. Edible gardens are now flourishing in cemeteries, in front of police stations, and around railroad stations and elder care centers.
But more than just transform her local community, Warhurst’s efforts have been felt globally. Todmorden has now started “vegetable tourism”, where people from all over the world come to tour their town. Their movement has also been copycatted in 30 other towns in England, as well as by communities in Japan, America and New Zealand. Warhurst’s movement, now called Incredible Edible, displays the potential of small actions to truly transform the world.