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June 19th, 2009

WHY A COMMUNITY GARDEN?

The idea for the garden began in 1998 when I returned to the community of Patagonia, Arizona. For more than ten years I had been learning about our industrial agricultural system: its dependence on fossil fuels for fertilizers, pesticides, transport, packaging and more.

Vacant Land in the Heart of Town,Hard-Packed Earth Full of Broken Glass & Remnants of Road Asphalt

Vacant Land in the Heart of Town,Hard-Packed Earth Full of Broken Glass & Remnants of Road Asphalt

Some years earlier, following two personal health crises, I had begun to make the connections between diet and health. A natural evolution followed as I learned more about industrial agriculture and its negative effects on the environment as well as its embedded issues of social justice.


This was more than my body being affected: this was the planet’s body. Our food systems were putting at risk our basic life support system, and what we were eating was not contributing positively to our health either.

An essay by Peter Bahouth (former president of GreenPeace), entitled The Attack of The Killer Tomato, has been the seminal agricultural story for me. Listening to him present this tale at the Bioneers conference in 1993 I realized that I could make a difference through my food choices and that others could too.


In addition there is the fragility of supply:  75% of the winter produce for all of the United States comes to us through the port of entry at Nogales, Arizona. If this port of entry were to close for any reason, say a global pandemic, then there would be serious shortages within the food supply.

It is also true that our industrial agriculture system produces food that looks beautiful but invariably disappoints our taste buds. Is it any wonder that we need to mask the taste with costly sauces and condiments and that our children are eating less and less fresh produce? One could assert that this food system is costing the taxpayer huge amounts of money because of health issues related to diet. We all suffer because we have lost something so vital and simple: having truly fresh, incredibly tasty, vibrant and fragrant, poison-free food to eat.

Workshop Participants Learn by Doing: Planting a New Orchard, the 'Bones' of the Garden

Workshop Participants Learn by Doing: Planting a New Orchard, the 'Bones' of the Garden

So I decided to start a garden that would provide a place for people to be inspired and empowered to grow their own food. There was no money, simply a vision of possibility along with the willingness and the skills necessary to create it.  It is a story of community engagement and what follows is a brief sketch of its evolution.

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