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Originally published November 22 2010

Smart governments grow food using public spaces

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Local governments across the United States are increasingly replacing lawns and ornamental landscapes with gardens and orchards to provide free food for their residents.

"I want people to see city hall differently -- that it's our public land, and that it works for us and with us," said Sallie Maron of Bainbridge Island, Wash., who helped replace city hall's landscaping with an edible garden. Any resident can take fresh ingredients from the garden at any time.

"It's for people in need or people who just want to try some fresh food," another resident said.

Other cities taking similar measures include Seattle, which created a vegetable garden and community space in a highway median strip that was formerly covered in hypodermic syringes; Des Moines, Iowa, where fruit and nut orchards are being planted around parks, schools and community shelters; and Davenport, Iowa, where a downtown parking lot is being turned into a vegetable garden. The Davenport garden planting is funded by the city, but will be maintained by volunteers. One of these volunteers, who own a Thai restaurant across the street, will use the garden to grow hard-to-find fresh ingredients for his traditional recipes.

The municipal gardens are part of a larger, nationwide return to gardening and local food, motivated by health, environmental and economic reasons.

"Buying local food straight from the farmer puts you in closer touch with the origin of the food, cuts a significant portion of the time and money spent transporting and "selling" the food, saves you money, and places more dollars in the pocket of those who produce your food," writes Gabriel Cousens in his book There Is a Cure for Diabetes.

In addition to providing food security to residents, municipal orchards and gardens can introduce residents to new foods and increase dietary diversity, and provide gathering places that lead to safer neighborhoods.

Best of all, the food is free.

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