The power of seeds: Urban gardening gains momentum in a pandemic | Home & Garden

Katherine Roth The Associate Press

On an assemblage of vacant lots and other pockets of unused land in New York’s Borough of the Bronx, gardeners from low-income neighborhoods have banded together to create more than a dozen “agricultural centers,” coordinating their gardens. communities and their harvest.

Several years ago, some discovered that together their small gardens could grow enough peppers to mass produce hot sauce – the hot sauce from the Bronx, to be precise, with the profits from sales being reinvested in their communities. .

During the pandemic, agricultural centers in the Bronx proved their power once again, producing health-promoting crops like garlic, kale and collard greens.

“The thing is, how can we learn from the pandemic to become truly resilient?” says Raymond Figueroa-Reyes, president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition.

“When the pandemic hit, urban agriculture went into hyper-productivity mode. People saw that the donations (of food) that were arriving were not adequate in terms of quantity or quality, and there was no has no dignity in waiting for this type of charity, ”he says.

The agricultural centers are part of an urban gardening movement across the country dedicated to empowering residents of poorer neighborhoods by encouraging them to grow fresh food.

Areas (urban and rural) with little access to healthy, fresh food have been called “food deserts” and tend to have high rates of diabetes and other illnesses, such as hypertension and obesity. . In cities, where many see the phenomenon as intertwined with deeper issues of race and equity, some community leaders prefer terms such as “food prison” or “food apartheid”.

Terri S. Tomasini