Years ago, when it wasn't popular to have a vegetable garden and when Chicago still had housing projects, I stumbled into a neighborhood near my apartment called the Ida B. Wells, housing projects. The homes at that time were dilapidated row houses with dirt instead of lawns in most of the front yards. In the midst of dirt and trash on the curb were a few homes that had replaced their dirt yards with full blown vegetable gardens. If I remember correctly, these gardens had bell peppers, collards, cabbage, corn, lettuce, beans and probably a few more things I may not recall at this time. This really got my attention because when I was a teenager, I tried my hand at growing vegetables in my parent's backyard. Eventually, I stopped and talk to two elderly ladies tending their gardens.
I asked what they were growing and when would they harvest their food. Then I asked; "Why aren't your neighbors growing vegetable as you are doing?" They told me they tried to get them involved but they simply weren't interested. For those who remember; during those early 1990's years, the country was at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, and I spotted a few people walking around that looked quite spent. I nodded and expressed how much I had wanted a garden but unfortunately I lived in an apartment located on the 22nd floor of a building -- not exactly a prime location to grow zucchini!
Fast forward to 2014 -- I have maintained a vegetable garden every year since I moved into my home over a decade ago. It wasn't until a couple of years back that I thought about the Ida B. Wells gardeners and how growing a garden could be beneficial to a family, especially a poor one. Should food stamp recipients who have adequate space be encouraged to maintain seasonal vegetable gardens?
If they own a home and have the space, I think they should consider vegetable garden. Consuming more fruits and vegetable is known to contribute to a healthier diet. Why spend precious money in a store buying vegetable when they can be produced cheaply at home?
Growing your own food can supplement your groceries and allow you to save a reasonable amount of money. I have a kale salad for lunch almost everyday in the summer and it's more or less free because kale and tomatoes are some of the many plants I grow each year.
I think a simple lifestyle change that incorporates gardening could be a great way for people living below the poverty line to improve their diet and enjoy a more sustainable existence.
Let me know what you think?
More from food