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Community gardens for Sacramento's homeless to grow fresh produce

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You may wish to check out the May 2, 2014 Sacramento Bee article by Cynthia Hubert, "Sacramento homeless gather this weekend to promote ‘SafeGround,’ civil rights."Finally, homeless people can grow their own fresh produce in community gardens.

About a block from the StakeDown site, Janet Little of the nonprofit Green Hands urban farm project was busy transforming a square of vacant property into a community garden, an urban garden for homeless people to grow their own fresh produce. Homeless people usually don't have access to affordable fresh vegetables and fruits. Most live on fast foods or foods provided by homeless feeding centers that rely on donated food. You also may wish to check out the article, "Oak Park Urban Garden Looks To Sell Its Produce « CBS Sacramento."

The urban garden will feature raised beds where people without permanent homes can learn about nutrition, plant fruits and vegetables and harvest food to help sustain them. The term often is referred to as guerilla gardening or urban farming. The homeless grow their own produce on vacant land all over Sacramento. But is vacant land really vacant? Will the owners of the land want the vacant land cultivated? At least someone will be pulling the weeds and planting vegetables and fruits. This weekend's event is known as the StakeDown event.

Homeless men and women are gathering in downtown Sacramento this weekend to promote civil rights for the poor and a “SafeGround” where the down and out could live in tiny cottages with basic services, free of police interference

The Homeward Stakedown event is in Alkali Flat, not far from the Loaves and Fishes center. The purpose of the event is to promote awareness about the need for more housing options. Presently, too many people are being punished for living outdoors. You get some people preferring living outdoors to the prospect of living indoors with bedbugs and other insects in some of the housing they may have experienced.

On the other hand, raising community awareness of the need for more housing options has been promoted for more than a decade, but who's making changes? Not all homeless people are there because there hopelessly hooked on some drug or alcohol, and not all are mentally ill. You have college graduates who become homeless after not being able to find work.

Then, again progress is being made in finding suitable property for a SafeGround village of 60 cottages and cooking and bathroom facilities for chronically homeless people

When it comes to nutrition, a community garden close to where homeless people are camping or otherwise living will give them access to fresh produce, and the chance to learn about how to grow and harvest their own food, which leads to more options and alternatives on preparing various vegetables some people may have never seen. Poor people who don't have the chance to grow food in season usually turn to the cheapest fast food eateries. Others can obtain packaged food and some fresh produce from the various food banks.

The nonprofit Green Hands urban farm project is about a block from the StakeDown event

You may wish to check out the articles, "Capital City Farming: 10 Urban Agriculture Projects in Washington, DC" and "The Future of Food: 11 Unique Urban Farming Projects." Similar urban gardens for the homeless and for other people in need of fresh produce they can't otherwise afford can help the homeless and other low-income residents look to connect with the land and their food, build community, and create a more sustainable food systems. The goal is transforming a square of vacant property into a community garden.

At least the sight of growing vegetables is better than looking at weeds and illegal dumping on vacant squares of land around Sacramento

What makes it easier to plant are the raised beds where people without permanent homes can learn about nutrition, plant fruits and vegetables and harvest food to help sustain them. Most homeless people spend their days looking for food and work.

There are those who spend their days getting drunk or drugged. But the public's image needs to know that many homeless people are just like anyone else, but down on their luck and in need of healthier food to help them help themselves. The StakeDown event is one way to educate the public that homeless people have rights and can stand up for themselves.

At the grass roots level, one way of starting is to grow their own food, since everyone has to eat. The goal is to eat healthier and find healthier shelter at the same time. Also check out the sites, "Urban Farming in Sacramento Calif - Homesteading Today" and "Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture Project, Sacramento." Or see, "Welcome to the Spiral Gardens Community Food Security Urban Garden Center."

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