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Barbara Cogswell: Community gardens could improve city

Environmentally Speaking

Posted: February 3, 2010 9:38 p.m.
Updated: February 4, 2010 4:55 a.m.
As a condominium dweller concerned with the planting restrictions that come with that I have been reading a lot about community gardens lately.

Maybe it is because winter is almost over and my old country girl sap has begun to rise. I always get the urge to plant about now.

Most years, I have satisfied my urge with a trip to the gardening section of a hardware store, and within a week, I return to my normal sedentary self.

This time though, the memory of some tiny, green cherry tomatoes that I was given by a friend with a backyard garden is still with me.

A commercially grown tomato is bred to travel rather than to taste wonderful at its destination - our plates.

When that juice met my taste buds, honestly, it took me back to my childhood tomato patch. I want to grow some of those myself, and green onions, green beans and peas, maybe a hill or two of corn, bright blue morning glories and an orange tree - a fantasy? Or could I really make it happen?

There must be others who suffer the same frustration who would enjoy having a space to garden.

The first step to any community garden effort is to assemble those in the community who have an interest in gardening, the environment or beautification of the space around them.

The excess produce could be donated to the local food banks, so those concerned about the underfed people in our city might like to help as well.

A few of us did meet last year. We talked about the value of a community garden as an example of environmental responsibility.

Everyone at those initial meetings agreed we wanted the garden to be organic.

Those who still scoff at that should note the success of a couple of stores in this valley that specialize in organic products, and the arrival of more and more such products in the supermarkets.

Many of us find those prices out of reach for the most part, and the ability to grow our own would be a benefit. Also, much of the price increase of produce in the grocery store is due to the price of shipping food long distances. All of those transportation costs are eliminated with locally grown food.

I also see big health benefits here once the opportunity is real.

Home-grown produce is fresher and more vitamin-rich. Who knows what has been used to control plant disease and insects on non-organic produce?

Don't forget all the social benefits that will come with a community garden.

Gardening is fun, productive and a source of inner peace, which is a much-sought-after commodity everywhere.

People meet and become friends who otherwise might never have bumped into each other.

The city of Santa Clarita's commitment to natural areas, parks, bike trails and recreation is admirable.

Since community gardens add to the quality of life and neighborhood beatification, perhaps federal money from community block grants or other such sources could be allocated to finance and staff this project.

Our city's commitment to this project would not be without precedent. Cities across the nation are helping to provide community gardens for their residents.

Another meeting of the Community Gardens Planning Group will be convened soon. We could be well on our way to be ready to plant next fall. We invite everyone including the city to participate in helping to create a community garden in Santa Clarita.

For more information on upcoming meetings and how to get involved, contact me at

Barbara Cogswell is a Santa Clarita resident. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Environmentally
Speaking" appears Thursdays in The Signal and rotates among local environmentalists.


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