Recently, I had the opportunity to visit The Well Fed Community Garden, started and founded by Arthur and Anya Gordon, owners of the popular Irregardless Cafe. Anya Gordon agreed to meet with me and tell me more about The Well Fed Community Garden, which grows food and community on an 1.5 acre plot at 1321 Athens Drive in Raleigh, NC. During the tour of the garden, I was able to see the garden in full bloom and learn more about the Gordon’s and the garden’s mission to change the way we eat and think about food.
With a world population of 7 billion humans and counting, a charge to humanity has been issued to address a significant challenge; producing enough food to sustain a population that is growing at an exponential rate.
The agribusiness sector is overwhelmingly embracing large-scale, industrial farming to keep humanity fed but these practices do not provide a long-term solution. “Agribusiness depends on herbicides and chemical fertilizers,” said Anya Gordon, “which pollute the ground water and air, as well as destroying the soil life.” While industrial farming is capable of producing the food needed right now, future generations will suffer because the farm land is being over worked using unnatural farming techniques.
In March 2012, after a lengthy debate with the City of Raleigh, the Gordon’s opened the Well Fed Community Garden (WFCG), a 1.5-acre urban farm on Athens Dr. “The WFCG is organic, with no herbicides nor chemical fertilizers used to increase crop yields,” said Gordon.
“Organic gardening focuses on the health of the soil, recycling scraps from the Cafe’s kitchen in the compost. Organic produce supports healthy ‘gut’ microbes – nurturing health.”
Recently, the FDA recommended Americans’ diet consist of 50% fruits and vegetables to combat the country’s obesity crisis, which causes increased chances of heart disease and diabetes. Gordon believes the WFCG could be apart of the solution in solving this health crisis.
“When folks witness vegetables and fruits growing, they are much more likely to eat them – helping to reach that 50%. Tending gardens is physical activity – another important component of a healthy life style,” Gordon explains.
Urban agriculture also benefits those with less means. “Lower income populations can supplement their meals with produce they grow- in their yard or at a local Community Garden,” Gordon said.
Currently, the vast majority of American produce is grown in California and shipped around the country to be consumed. California is also in the midst of its worst drought ever, casting doubt on the state’s ability to keep Americans tables full of vegetables and fruits. With food production centralized in California, urban farming will help decentralize food production and significantly reduce the cost of transporting food from California.
“Urban agriculture supports healthy, vibrant communities in all aspects,” Gordon concludes, “ensuring an affordable, healthy diet of vegetables and fruits.”
If you are interested in volunteering at the Well Fed Community Garden, contact email@example.com to schedule a session. The Well Fed Community Garden contributes 80% of its crop to the Irregardless Café and the other 20% to volunteers.
For more information visit the garden online: http://www.irregardless.com/garden/
-Peter Thompson, Shop Local Raleigh