On January 27, 2021, we testified in support of a bill proposed by Council Member Diana Ayala that would require the City to undertake a detailed study of food production in community gardens, ways to support their food production, and channels for making neighborhood-grown food available to the community.
At the same time, we expressed concerns about the ability of the Department of Parks and Recreation to undertake and support such a study. We raised concerns that Parks leadership has not upheld the values of those working for Food Justice, particularly on the issue of composting in the city.
Many community gardeners are vital members of a larger movement towards food sovereignty, and have been working vigorously for the right to healthy, fresh, culturally relevant food; the right to green space and community land ownership; and the right to health. These values must be upheld in any study and set of recommendations made.
In testimony, we asked that the volunteer labor of community gardeners be acknowledged and honored. The most prolific and powerful community gardeners are often people of color, often from low-income communities, often women, often immigrants. Their work has tremendous community value, but lacks vital economic support.
We asked the city to increase support for community gardens as essential infrastructure for neighborhood food production – and to offer creative, adequate and community-affirming funding to ensure that they can provide increased health and environmental benefits to neighborhoods across the city.