One of the most eloquent examples of creating social sustainability can be found in a simple vegetable garden. In places where green space, healthy foods and economic resources are all in short supply, a backyard vegetable garden can help provide all three.
An article in today's New York Times describes a group called La Mesa Verde, which goes into people's homes in low income Latino neighborhoods to plant backyard organic gardens.
It's so simple: planting edible gardens contributes to economic sustainability by providing inexpensive, readily available food. One participant in the La Mesa Verde program described saving $90 a month on grocery bills because of the garden.
And the benefits extend beyond the pocketbook: Providing people with the means to accessing inexpensive, healthy foods is important to promoting health equity. An endemic problem in low income communities of color is lack of access to healthy foods (i.e., fresh produce) and a predominance of cheap, unhealthy foods. This, in turn, exacerbates health inequality. The article describes the efforts of La Mesa Verde, started by Raul Lozano, son of farmworkers and a passionate gardener, as part of a national movement "to make healthy food readily accessible to marginilized urban neighborhoods."
Participants also describe the social benefits of bringing their families together, of connecting with children and enhancing community connectedness. And, of course, planting a garden brings with it innumerable benefits to the planet.