During the No Impact project, I helped my friend Mayer Vishner with his vegetable plot in the Laguardia Community Gardens here in New York. For those of you who don't know, a community garden is a public piece of land broken up into a checkerboard of plots and a different gardener tends to each plot.
Urban vegetable gardening, I think, is hugely important for a variety of reasons--local food production, aesthetic enhancement of the city, absorption of rainwater to help prevent sewage overflows, amelioration of the heat island effect. But what may be more hidden than you'd expect is evident in the very name of what goes on--community gardening.
This year, our little family finally came to the top of Laguardia's waiting list and we got our own plot. Isabella, my four-year-old, has the time of her life in the garden. She runs around talking to people, playing with shovels, squirting herself with the hose.
I knew that she would have fun, but what I hadn't anticipated was how much pleasure she brings to the older population of gardeners. She helps them water or weed, and the oldsters get as much pleasure as the youngster.
Who'd have thought:
In the world's fastest city, it turns out that local food equals community.