Tenacious gardeners put down roots in 'America's most desperate town'
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Christian Science Monitor
Posted: July 1st, 2014
Pedro Rodriguezs [chicken] coop occupies one corner of a vacant-lot-turned-garden in Camden, New Jersey. Its an oasis of abundance and order in a city of abandoned buildings, street trash, and drug deals that few attempt to hide. Rodriguez, 50, grew up down the street. Near the chickens, he has planted neat raised beds of corn, tomatoes, cabbage, kale, asparagus, eggplant, onion, 20 varieties of hot peppers, and broccoli. Fruit trees (cherry, apple, peach, and pear) line the perimeter of the lot, as well as two beehives. Hes considering getting a goat. In September of 2013, the last centrally located grocery store [in Camden] closed its doors. The city needs fresh food, and residents are doing what it takes to grow it. The success of community gardens is thanks in large part to the Camden City Garden Club, which has been supporting the citys gardens with organizing power, education, materials, and food distribution since 1985. The clubs founder and executive director, Mike Devlin, [built] an organization whose programs now include the Camden Childrens Garden on the waterfront; Camden Grows, a program that trains new gardeners; a Food Security Council, which was soon adopted by the city; the Fresh Mobile Market, a truck that sells fresh produce in the neighborhoods and provides a place for residents to barter their surplus vegetables; a youth employment and training program that has lasted nearly two decades; and Grow Labs, a school program to teach kids about healthy foodin addition to supporting the growing network of community gardens.
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