Promote the local economy, increase your nutrition, eat fresh vegetables and maximize your taste buds at dinner time. These are just some of the reasons you should get your vegetables from local sources. Vegetables sourced locally reduce the carbon footprint, are more nutritious, and they just taste better! The problem most people have is that they either assume their local grocer stocks local vegetables, or they just don’t know where to get them.
You would think that the Publix or Sweetbay around the corner was buying produce from local farmers – I mean, it makes sense right?
Yes it makes sense, but that doesn’t mean that’s what they are doing.
Did you know?
· From field to fork, an average dinner travels 1,500 miles.
· Buying direct from local farmers supports the local economy.
· Locally grown fruits and vegetables are usually sold within 24 hours of being harvested.
· Produce picked and eaten at the height of ripeness has exceptional flavor and, when handled properly, is packed with nutrients.
· Traveling tomatoes are picked green and then gassed with ethylene prior to shipping.
The best way to get local vegetables is to invest in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), or join a community garden. A CSA is a local farm that grows and harvests vegetables for the surrounding community. Its members pay a yearly fee and commit a predetermined amount of time to helping farm the land. In return, they receive a weekly share of the crop.
A community garden is a little different. In a community garden, a neighborhood or small group of people find a plot of land and commit to farming it as a community. Each family has a private plot, and additionally there is a community plot. The community garden is entirely run and cared for by each member in the group and the harvest is split up into shares.
As for community gardens, several neighborhoods have established gardens in Hillsborough County.
The Seminole Heights Community Garden
This community garden was started by resident Robin Milcowitz in Seminole Heights. Each member pays a monthly fee for an individual plot. There is also a community part of the garden that people commit their time to keeping. There are rows of rain barrels to collect water for the plants. There is also a community compost pile, so all of the plants are cared for without insecticides or chemical fertilizer.
Progress Village Community Garden
This community garden is located in East Hillsborough – in a neighborhood called Progress Village. The garden has been operating for over 10 years now and helps to feed over a thousand people a year. The Progress Village Civic Association aims to expand the garden to include a building for education.
The Eden Project
A community Garden started in the Ybor City area, the Eden Project is headed by Natalia Denglar Blair.
The East Tampa Community Garden
Across the street from Middleton High School, East Tampa residents started this community garden last year. Their goals: to promote community, spark friendships, educate children, and provide free produce to the residents.
The Moses House
This is a non-profit organization that works within the Sulphur Springs area and in partnership with the USF Urban Anthropology department to help raise awareness of nutrition, promote education and help the residents of this community get by. They have just received funding for their community garden project and will begin planting soon.
Wimauma Intergenerational Community Garden Project
This community garden was started adjacent to the Wimauma Senior Center in 2008. The project was started to benefit both the elderly and youthful citizens of the area. Its goal: to provide education, beautification, and of course vegetables!
If you know of a community garden started in Hillsborough County we have not talked about, feel free to leave a comment. To find out more about communities within Hillsborough County, and the efforts that are being done to eliminate health disparities and promote nutrition, education and physical activity, visit our website by clicking here: Health Equity Coalition.