What used to be nothing more than barren, unused easement space for overhead utility lines in an ordinary southern California suburb has turned into a flourishing, edible landscape, thanks to the inspiration of several local visionaries who recognized incredible potential for the otherwise wasted site. And today, the 7.5-acre community garden helps feed more than 200,000 local people in need every year, proving just how viable and productive a few small acres of land can be in ending hunger.
Known as "The Incredible Edible Park," the Irvine, California, green space is home to hundreds of rows of collard greens, broccoli, lettuce, squash, and a number of other food crops, not to mention a grove containing more than 80 citrus trees, all of which are broken up only by winding bicycle and walking paths that offer park visitors a front-row glimpse into how community-driven agriculture can reshape a city. And if they choose to do so, park visitors are free to pick their own food from the bounty as well.
"The city's efforts led the way to the transformation of this site from 7.5 acres of weed-filled Southern California Edison (local power company) easement land into an agricultural field that is part of the Second Harvest's food donation program," wrote Sylvia Walker from the Redfin blog about the park. "[N]ot only did this mean the renovation of an unsightly field and savings to the city of $4,500 on weed abatement, but it also means an ongoing supply of food donations for the food bank."
The project was a joint effort hatched by both the city and the power company, and is run entirely by volunteers. According to many involved with urban gardening initiatives, the park's implementation and continued growth over the years is an ideal model for other cities to follow as they seek better land use management protocols. Particularly in denser urban areas where empty or trash-filled lots are common, cities can take advantage of these wasted land plots by teaming up with local nonprofits, educational institutions, churches, and other groups to establish edible landscaping parks.
"What they're doing here, taking unused land, basically an easement for the utility company, and using it to grow food to feed the needy is an excellent idea," expressed John from GrowingYourGreens.com in a video report on "The Incredible Edible Park" he filmed earlier this year. "But I would hope that they would take this a little bit further and expand the education component of this park to make people realize where food comes from, that food comes from the earth."
You can watch John's video report on the park here: http://youtu.be/wXLx0D9YkKA
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