In Lester R. Brown’s recent book “Plan B 2.0:” Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble, one chapter is devoted to designing sustainable cities. The book highlights the huge unrealized potential for urban gardening in the United States including the hundreds of thousands of urban vacant lots. While we hear more and more that producing and buying food locally has numerous benefits for local economies and the environment, the book also cites “a regenerative effect” when vacant lots are transformed from eyesores–weedy, trash-ridden dangerous gathering places–into bountiful, beautiful, and safe gardens that feed people’s bodies and souls.
In Oakland, California, People’s Grocery has mobilized communities to transform blighted lots into sustainable gardens full of fruit trees, herbs, vegetables and compost piles. Check out their programs and blog here.
In 2006, two University of California at Berkeley researchers completed a food systems assessment for Oakland, California with the goal of assessing the city’s capability of producing at least 30 percent of its food needs within the immediate region. They found that with 35 community-based gardens and over 20 million acres in agricultural production surrounding Oakland within a 300-mile radius, there is significant potential for boosting a sustainable food-based economy.