Measuring success in community gardens

A speaker at the Nashville Food Summit: “Community gardens are more about the community then the gardening.” I agree that has been true in recent years but is that the future?
And then this morning saw this on the comfood listserve:

Community Gardens Win the Food Wars
Millions of pounds of fresh food and produce were raised during the World War II years—as much as 40% of all vegetables consumed nationally.

5,285,000 Victory Gardens in the United States

According to The War Garden Victorious, Indianapolis “estimated the value of its war-garden crop in 1918 at $1,473,165. Denver placed its yield at $2,500,000 and Los Angeles at $1,000,000. Washington, District of Columbia reached $1,396,5000.” Thanks to propaganda (“your garden is a munitions plant”) there were 5,285,000 victory gardens in 1918. The City of Rochester, New York alone had more than 15,000. The “estimated value of our war-garden crops for 1918 (was) $525,000,000! A half billion dollars!”

Important history for us to know and to use as an impetus for today. Speaking of today:

Thanks to the research efforts of Farming Concrete, we know the value and weight of produce created by 67 of the 500 community gardens in NYC:

* 67 gardens comprise 1,200 plots
* 1,200 gardeners (give or take) raised 39,518 plants
* 39,518 plants produced 87,690 lbs of food
* 87,690 lbs of food  worth $214,060

But here is the statistic that really caught my eye. All this work, all this fresh food was produced on just 1.7 acres of land, or 71,950 square feet. The parking lots at suburban malls are bigger than that!

Check out Farming Concrete for their excellent resources to measure the benefits of urban gardens; the toolkit is very similar to the Farmers Market Metrics we are creating at the Farmers Market Coalition.




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