Oasis in the Food Desert

Tricycle Gardens wants to bring healthy local food to Richmond’s inner city. It’s a tall order changing ingrained dietary habits. Engaging people to grow their own food may be the key.


by James A. Bacon

Bringing healthy fruits and vegetables to Richmond’s “food desert” is the easy part of the job at Tricycle Gardens. The nonprofit environmental group grew 40,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce on its ½-acre urban farm last year – basil and sage; berries and melons; beans and squash – and distributed most of it locally through local farmers markets and food banks.

Getting people to actually eat the food is a bit trickier. Not everyone has acquired a taste for okra and zucchini. Indeed, urban culture has largely expunged fresh food from the menu in favor of fast and processed foods. “Eating patterns and habits have formed over many years,” says Sally G. Schwitters, Tricycle’s executive director. “It’s a transformational change to get someone to see the benefits of eating kale as opposed to potato chips.”

That’s why Tricycle Gardens is much more than an urban farm. The social enterprise also engages in community outreach and education: teaching city dwellers how to grow tomatoes and cucumbers in their own back yards, building distribution networks for their organic produce, and even throwing cooking classes to show people what they can do with exotic fruits and veggies not normally found in a McDonald’s happy meal.

As Richmond’s leading urban farming enterprise, Tricycle Gardens is a key player in Central Virginia’s locally grown food movement. Proliferating organic farms, natural food stores, farm-to-home distributors and artisan producers of specialties from breads to veggie burgers make a culinary cornucopia available to serious foodies. The movement is gaining momentum as people make the link between poor nutrition and chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes. But locally grown foods have inherent limitations. Because they tend to be expensive, they appeal mainly to the affluent. Poor people typically aren’t willing to shell out the shekels for expensive and unfamiliar fare, no matter how healthy it is.

Ewww, worms! Sally Schwitters holds a handful of worm-wriggling compost, the secret to Tricycle Farms' high yields.

Tricycle Gardens’ mission is to close the socio-economic gap. First, change popular tastes by creating a tighter bond between people and the food they eat. “If you plant a broccoli seed, and watch it grow, and clip off a piece in the garden, it’s a different experience” from buying it in the store, says Schwitters, a former California resident who, with her husband, has been involved with sustainable farming for many years. “It creates a deeper love for the food.”

Second, change the economics by demonstrating how to raise fruits and vegetables in home and community gardens. If fresh produce is unavailable in so-called food deserts or simply too expensive for the poor to buy, people can start home gardens. Declares Schwitters: “Be part of the economic revolution of growing your own food.”

Cultural revolution

A few generations ago, a majority of Virginians made their living on a farm. Eating what they grew, they developed a taste for a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Their culinary traditions centered around the foods they knew. Much of that cultural knowledge was lost, however, when people moved to the city. Fare that was familiar to the grandparents’ generation became alien and strange-tasting to the younger generation. Despite repeated warnings from government and media to eat nutritious, balanced meals, people gravitated toward salt- and sugar-saturated packaged foods that were convenient and tasted good.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, roughly 5% of Virginia’ population live in food deserts, defined in urban areas as lower-income census tracts where a substantial number of residents live more than a mile from a grocery store. The Richmond region has 19 such census tracts.

Tricycle Gardens has taken on the challenge of re-introducing vegetables to an inner-city population with no taste for them by forging partnerships with other community groups. The Church Hill-based organization has worked with neighborhood groups in eastern Richmond and in Chesterfield County to create “learning gardens” where children can participate in planting, tending and harvesting the food.

One partner, the Neighborhood Resource Center in Fulton Hill, provides a range of community services such as a pre-school, after-school care, computer literacy classes and job support. Operating out of an old post office building, the center set an urban garden, consisting of cinderblock planters filled with composted soil, in the parking lot. The garden grows figs, peaches, berries, broccoli, corn and a wide variety of other vegetables.

Children are more likely to eat their veggies when they have a hand in raising them. (Photo credit: Tricycle Gardens)

In a weekly gardening class, young children pitch in to do whatever the garden needs to have done, whether it’s planting, weeding, watering or harvesting. The Center carries the food connection into the kitchen, where kids take cooking classes. “Staff members are excited about food and eating,” says food program director Blue Clements. “That transfers to the kids — ‘Oh, gosh, the figs are ripe, try a bite!’ The culture that’s been created here around food and eating is one of positivity. We have respect for everyone’s preferences. We give kids space to try things and have reactions to them.”

Plenty of kids decide they love vegetables. Just a few days ago, Clements watched as children gulped down a tomato as if it were an apple. They even like broccoli. “We have to put a limit on the number of servings because the first kids [through the line] would eat it all.”

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0 responses to “Oasis in the Food Desert

  1. I must say that this whole area deserves more attention. Let’s start with food deserts. I believe the statistical facts – there are 19 census tracts in the Richmond area where a substantial number of people live more than a mile from a grocery store. So what? I live more than a mile from the nearest grocery store. Therefore, I drive to the store and buy food. Is the point that many poor people don’t have cars and, therefore, can’t drive to a grocery store? If so, are these people starving? I seem to remember that the problem is more obesity than starvation. If so, I assume there must be many fast food joints within easy walking distance in these food deserts. Why? Why would grocery stores avoid these areas whereas fast food joints proliferate?

    The idea of growing your own food seems a bit extreme. While it may be a good idea, it is challenging. I keep a vegetable garden every summer. Deer and rabbits eat the food, the vegetables need to be watered, etc. Growing your own food is interesting but it is very time consuming. Wouldn’t it make more sense to get to the bottom of why there are no grocery stores in these food deserts?

    Are grocers inherently racist?

    Help me out here, Jim. A couple of weeks ago you wrote about food deserts. Not enough grocery stores in the inner city, I take it. Now, you want community farming? Wouldn’t starting up grocery stores be a plan with a higher likelihood of success than establishing urban farms?

    Are the residents of these food deserts so ill-informed that they don’t know the value of eating vegetables until they grow their own vegetables? Really?

    This whole things doesn’t really make much sense to me.

    Again, why do the fast food joints find these food deserts to be just peachy-keen places to conduct business while the grocers stay away?

    • The reason why there’s a food desert is that people living in the inner city don’t like eating fresh vegetables. They’d rather spend their money on junk. Is that straightforward enough for you? Of course, that’s my opinion, and not what Sally Schwitters told me, so I didn’t put that in the article.

      Schwitters is clearly more intelligent than a lot of people who worry about food deserts. She understands that the problem isn’t simply a lack of grocery stores. One of her initiatives is to get fresh food into the many small convenience markets that dot Richmond’s inner city, and she’s well aware of that local merchants would supply fresh produce if there was a demand for it…. although she remains optimistic that she will succeed in getting some of them to convert. I hope to follow up on this angle.

      As for the practicality of people growing their own food…. Poor people earning $10 an hour (or less) will make a different cost-benefit calculation than Don Ripper the millionaire entrepreneur. They place a different value on their time. If they can save money at the grocery store, they might well figure it’s worth the effort to grow their own produce. The proof is in the pudding — community gardens are spreading. I wouldn’t say they’re taking off, but they are spreading. The 31st Street Baptist Church has three. There are others. Also, Schwitters is pushing the idea of back-yard or even back-porch planters. It will be interesting to see if people embrace that idea.

      I suspect that some people will. Of course, a lot of people won’t care and won’t bother. If someone is used to the government giving them food stamps, paying for medical care, subsidizing their rent, and sending a check every month, he or she may not be open to the idea of doing something for themselves. But you might be surprised at how much entrepreneurial spirit resides in the inner city when people see a chance to better themselves.

      • That’s more straight-forward – the people living in the food deserts don’t like fresh vegetables so they don’t eat them.

        Now, your point about gardening is a bit more confused. The people in the food deserts have a different value of time calculation than I do so they have time to garden. Of course, the opposite is visibly true. I do have a graden and have had one for years while the people in the food deserts don’t have gardens.

        I suspect that you will find that the people in the food deserts actually have very little free time. Many work and need to take time consuming public transportation to and from their jobs. This problem is made all the worse by Richmond’s poor public transit systems (per Peter G). In many cases, the family structure has been broken and mothers or grandmothers are raising multiple children while working. The desperation of limited employment opportunities drives too many to alcohol, drugs and the related crimes that come with these maladies.

        Against this backdrop comes the question of nutrition. The kids like Big Macs and, let’s be honest, the damn things do taste pretty good. Meanwhile, the fast food is laced with sugar which makes it all the more addictive. And, in a world where those who work must work hard while those who don’t work don’t care – there are bigger questions than whether they got the full pyramid of USDA recommended vegetables. The need to get off the streets before it gets too dark is just one more factor pushing people to fast food rather than home made meals.

        I applaud both you and Sally Schwitters for both trying to understand the situation and trying to do something about it.

        My only suggestion would be to add some effort to explaining what should (and should not) be eaten in fast food. For example, a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin has 300 calories while a Big Breakfast with Hotcakes has 1090. You are much better off, from a calories standpoint, eating 2 Egg McMuffins than one Big Breakfast with Hotcakes. Hell, you can eat three and still save 190 calories! Brown rice is better than white rice. Five steamed pork dumplings? 230 calories. Two spring rolls? 400 calories.

        As for getting healthy foods into the convenience stores that are common in food deserts – good idea but focus on fruit rather than vegetables. Fruit is fast food. An apple can be eaten with no cooking. Asparagus, not so much.

        My final question involves people living in low income rural areas. There are plenty of farms and plenty of fresh food. Is obesity an issue in those areas? My suspicion is “yes”. Once again, running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to eke out a living is time consuming and exhausting. Either you give up – in which case fast food is among the least of your worries or you don’t – in which case you don’t have a lot of time for shopping and cooking.

        OK – final, final point. Mixed use living. Places where you can live, work and play. Theoretically, you spend less time commuting and getting to and from stores. Therefore, you have more time for exercise and healthy eating. Any quantitative evidence of this? Is Reston healthier than Springfield, after properly adjusting for demographic factors like average age? Is there a benefit to advanced human settlement patterns that has not been seen yet?

        • First of all, let me say that I’m utterly amazed that you have time to tend a garden. Are you one of those people who need only four hours of sleep a day? I’m convinced that’s the hidden secret of success for many people. They have more hours in the day to do what they do.

          Convenience stores…. anything I say would be speculative at this point. It’s an angle that I hope to pursue, though.

          Mixed use development — the Smart Growthers do cite studies (I can’t recall specific ones) that demonstrate a link (not a super-strong one, but a link nevertheless) between land use and obesity. I’m open to that line of thinking but I’m not totally persuaded. Obesity is a major problem in the inner city…. where people are far less likely to own cars and have to walk. But I think it’s a connection worth exploring.

          My argument is that creating walkable and bikable communities at least gives people the option to get more exercise through walking and biking. Whether they take advantage of that option is another question.

  2. I could feed my family on the cheap with a couple of 20 packs of chicken nuggets, fries and sodas from a drive-thru or I could spend big money at the grocery story buying organic chicken, bread crumbs, eggs, milk and some olive oil and make a healthier version of the nuggets and serve them with brown rice and green beans from the garden. I consider myself lucky that I have the ability (time, money and desire) to be able to feed my children healthy food.

    • 4 nuggets have 186 calories. However, a large order of fries has 500.

      8 nuggets and a side salad swimming in Newman’s Ranch Dressing?

      372 (nuggets) + 20 (side salad) + 170 (ranch dressing) = 562.

      4 nuggets + large fries = 686

      Avoiding 144 calories a day for 6 months? Avoids adding 7.4 pounds of body weight, all other things kept equal.

      • Anybody can do the math you just did. This may be politically incorrect — blaming the victim, whatever — but I think some people just don’t care. As Edward Banfield observed 40 years ago, upwardly mobile individuals display an ability to defer gratification. Downwardly mobile individuals do not. When someone walks into McDonalds and ordesr a large fries instead of a side salad, it’s not because they are ignorant of the fact that fries are less healthy than salads, it’s because they prefer the taste of fries and they aren’t thinking about how they could shed 7 pounds over six months by sticking with salads.

  3. Several additional thoughts. 1. Fast food is more profitable than grocery store food. The profit margin on a factory-grown beef and chicken, and sodas (all subsidized by cheap corn) is much greater than the profit margin on vegetables and fruits from the grocery store. If a good capitalist had a choice between investing in a grocery store or a McDonalds (to pick on just one of them), he’d go with the McDonalds. 2. The higher profit margin allows a lot more advertising, and this has social effects. Have you seen the McDonald’s ads – they are everywhere on tv, and they are clearly directed at those who live in the food deserts. 3. When you don’t have a lot of discretionary income, you go for the calories because is “feels” better. If you have only a dollar to spend, that dollar spent on fries or a biggie soda is a lot more satisfying than a dollar spent on strawberries or asparagus.

    • Richard said, “When you don’t have a lot of discretionary income, you go for the calories because it ‘feels’ better.” I suspect that’s the root of the problem. Don’t blame McDonalds. As Don the Ripper notes above, you can get reasonably healthy meals there. People choose not to order them. If McDonalds’ customer base were clamoring for healthier foods, don’t you think the company would find a way to deliver?

      • I’m not blaming McDonalds. They’re doing the logical, capitalist thing. I love capitalism as an economic system, but its entire point is to make money. As we see in many industries (eg banking), the primary motivation is to make money, sometimes without regard to the consequences to its customers. McDonalds has salads, but it makes a lot more on soda, fries and burgers, and if you look at their ads, they’re pushing the latter. As the scorpion said as it stang the dog that helped the scorpion across the flooded, “you knew I was a scorpion.” And yes we know that McDonalds is there to make money, and we can’t blame it for that.

    • The MacDonald’s Fries in Moorfield W. Va. are the best ever. Worth the trip.

  4. My God! What a conversation! How factoids and the spirit aspect translate into obesity issues versus the lean. The convenience store versus grocery store versus pot nurtured backyard veggies. The class aspect inflected by city versus smart city versus rural, all as impacted by the daily commute travel times versus planter times by season, as all of the above relate to calories per nugget per fry per large fry per salad on the side as impacted by Newman’s ranch and by metabolism defined as per hours of sleep a night and body weight per bicycle walk time, ad infinitude.

    So now we’re at the nub of the issue. This Tricycle Gardens thing is all about building an engine for health, knowledge, and creatively. One that leads those who participate into all kinds of life possibilities, the imagination is the limit. One hurdle is sustainability – building structures that keep the machine running, spinning off opportunities.

    Tricycle Gardens has the look of First Class.

  5. One more thing. It is ultimately a “social” issue that ought to be addressed by community organizations and churches. People need to learn that the local fast food joint isn’t really interested in them as people, but as consumers, and that despite the onslaught of advertising and the predominant (capitalist) culture, that they do need to resist. I would like to see a change in food policy as well. Why do we subsidize a type of food production – corn (crop insurance, ethanol), factory-farming, fast food – that is harmful to the “nation’s” health?

  6. I don’t think this is about growing one’s own food or about eating fresh food.

    I think it’s well intentioned but misdirected do-gooder-ism.

    You don’t need to grow your own food or eat “fresh” food to be skinny as a rail.

    You _ARE_ responsible for your own health and well-being including your weight – and there are no excuses. You don’t get fat but not having enough fresh food laying around.

    When I see this kind of thing – it despairs me to no end – because I realize that if this is the way we think about issues, we have no prayer of dealing with our really serious issues like the deficit and debt and entitlements.

    We’ve become a “do-gooder” society on the Titanic.

  7. I applaud Tricycle Gardens for their efforts. All this talk of calories & fast food doesn’t get to the point that it’s not about the calories, it’s about the quality and nutritional value of the food itself. Having the knowledge to grow your own food is incredibly valuable, and I think when people do have gardens and are participating in the production of their own food, they’re more inclined to eat well. And larryg, the deficit is of course an issue, but the health of this nation is also a huge issue, and it’s places like Tricycle that are reaching out in urban communities and getting people interested in being healthy. Have you ever seen a kid’s face light up when they watch seeds grow into fruits & vegetables, knowing that they made it happen? It’s a beautiful thing, and those kids are the future of urban agriculture. Bravo, Tricycle Gardens. Keep up the good work!

  8. Shooting holes in someone’s hard work just because it is difficult to understand or fully grasp a problem that is completely and intricately woven into an entire lifestyle and culture seems a little defeatist, Mr. Rippert.

    The primary goal here is to teach people that it is easy to value nutrition and health when you become emotionally invested in those plants, either because you watched your children grow them or you spent time with friends and family behind the church on a Saturday, or any number of pleasant situations you could possibly contrive. Through a real connection to the community through that time spent, every one of those ripe tomatoes so sliced has the ability to call up a memory of your son playing with friends in the garden, even as he learns skills that will stick with him for the rest of his life. Cultivating these experiences will change lives, and thus health, not proximity of groceries (and in the mean time, Tricycle Gardens will help fill that void for whomever would like to partake).

    Achieving that brand of continuity in a culture, where the old relearn to value the homegrown and the young discover the miracle and payoff of hard-work-in-the-dirt will pay amazing dividends, albeit along a timeline that your love of McDonalds obfuscates your ability to appreciate. This isn’t about educating people on calorie counts at fast food restaurants; that horse has been shot, tenderized, composted, and used to grow some hops that made some truly excellent beer over at Hardywood. Your knowledge of these is admirable, but Tricycle is attempting to create a reward system for eating locally sourced vegetables that is rooted in the community experience, rather than dopamine d’Corn syrup.

    Collin

    P.S. Racist grocers? Though perhaps I understand the spirit of the suggestion as a rhetorical trope, grow a pair and learn some intelligent discourse rather than suggesting an entire industry dislikes catering to the poor.

    • Bettycx or Collin (whatever):

      Perhaps some remedial reading instruction to go with your deep understanding of botany?

      “I applaud both you and Sally Schwitters for both trying to understand the situation and trying to do something about it.”.

      That’s not exactly shooting holes in those urban gardens, now is it?

      Personally, I think the urban gardening effort is an example of relatively wealthy do gooders trying to change a situation without really understanding the situation. The question I ask is not whether the urban gardens are beneficial, it is where (on the priority list of actions) these urban gardens fall.

      Why don’t people in these so-called food deserts eat well?

      Is it really because, as children, they didn’t get to see crops grow? If so, then I would guess that people living in low income rural areas would be quite healthy. Is that the case? Perhaps you can take a look at this article and let me know your thoughts:

      http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/childrens-health/articles/2010/04/09/child-obesity-soaring-in-rural-america

      Since reading comprehension isn’t one of your strengths, let me suggest that you use “obesity in rural america” as a search argument in the Google search engine and read some the articles that are returned.

      So, out in rural America where food is grown almost everywhere – children are getting fatter and fatter. Should we build more farms in farm country to prevent this?

      I am sorry that you don’t like fast food restaurants. I am not much of a fan either. However, I know that the people you want to help are surrounded by fast food restaurants. Your answer is to build urban farms in order to create, “…a real connection to the community through that time spent, every one of those ripe tomatoes so sliced has the ability to call up a memory of your son playing with friends in the garden, even as he learns skills that will stick with him for the rest of his life.”. While my son and I are learning to love tomatoes and building life skills – there are still all those fast food restaurants. And, there are no grocery stores. My practical suggestion is that an intermediate step on the way to building life skills might be some nutritional education. And, since there are plenty of fast food restaurants and no grocery stores – it might be better to focus on fast food rather than imagine a source of fresh vegetables and go from there.

      As for the lack of grocery stores in the food deserts – you still haven’t answered the question. Why aren’t there any grocery stores there? There are plenty of food selling establishments – convenience stores, fast food joints, etc. Therefore, one would assume that there is money being spent on food. Why no grocery stores? Jim Bacon claims that, “The reason why there’s a food desert is that people living in the inner city don’t like eating fresh vegetables. They’d rather spend their money on junk.”. Of course, this presumes that grocery stores are financially viable because they sell fresh vegetables. In an area where grocery stores can’t sell fresh vegetables, they can’t turn a profit and, therefore, don’t exist.

      Does this seem right to you?

      Since you seem to be a self-proclaimed expert on these things, let me try again. In an area where people spend money on fast food and convenience store fare, why are there no grocery stores?

  9. re: “not about calories”

    unfortunately it is. We have a bunch of people who are nutritionally ignorant and we are teaching them sound-bite concepts about obesity and “fresh” food.

    I do not denigrate the hard work and I especially value teaching kids about their agrarian roots but obesity is about personal responsibility also – to know what you are eating – not only in terms of “quality” but in terms of calories.

    You can eat all the “fresh” food you want but if you follow it with a trip down to McD to get a 1200 calorie Big Mac – that “fresh” food goes for naught.

    Again – I much appreciate those who put their time and efforts to good causes but misguided purposes need to be recognized. We have too much “feel good” efforts that totally miss the mark in terms of being actually effective – and sustainable.

    Kids and their Moms/Dads would do much better if they better understand the caloric content of what they ate – whether it be “fresh” or fast food or in between. They need knowledge to make good choices not someone telling them that they’re fat because they do not eat “fresh” food.

    get those kids nutritionally educated – and that will count for something important.

    • Right you are, LarryG.

      The urban gardens may be very valuable over the long term. However, they should be augmented with some nutritional education. The parents and kids who go to the urban garden are already engaged. Why not use that opportunity to provide some nutritional education as well as building a love of fresh food?

      Calories are an imperfect measure. However, they are a whole lot better than nothing.

  10. Thomas Jefferson on the subject at hand:

    c. 1781. (Notes on the State of Virginia) “Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth.”

    c. 1781.(Notes on the State of Virginia) “Cultivators of the earth are the most virtuous and independent citizens.”

    1785 Aug. 23. (to John Jay) “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it’s liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.”

    1785 Oct. 28. (to James Madison) “It is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.”

    1787 Dec. 20. (to James Madison) “I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural.”

    1795 Apr. 29. (to J. N. Démeunier) “It [agriculture] is at the same time the most tranquil, healthy, and independent [occupation].”

    1795 Sept. 8. (to Madame de Tessé) “I am become the most industrious and ardent farmer of the canton…”

    1803 Nov. 14. (to David Williams) “The class principally defective is that of agriculture. It is the first in utility, and ought to be the first in respect. The same artificial means which have been used to produce a competition in learning, may be equally successful in restoring agriculture to its primary dignity in the eyes of men. It is a science of the very first order. It counts among it handmaids of the most respectable sciences, such as Chemistry, Natural Philosophy, Mechanics, Mathematics generally, Natural History, Botany. In every College and University, a professorship of agriculture, and the class of its students, might be honored as the first. Young men closing their academical education with this, as the crown of all other sciences, fascinated with its solid charms, and at a time when they are to choose an occupation, instead of crowding the other classes, would return to the farms of their fathers, their own, or those of others, and replenish and invigorate a calling, now languishing under contempt and oppression. The charitable schools, instead of storing their pupils with a lore which the present state of society does not call for, converted into schools of agriculture, might restore them to that branch qualified to enrich and honor themselves, and to increase the productions of the nation instead of consuming them.”

    1810 June 27. (to Joseph Dougherty) “I think it the duty of farmers who are wealthier than others to give those less so the benefit of any improvements they can introduce, gratis.”

    1817 May 10. (to William Johnson) “The pamphlet you were so kind as to send me manifests a zeal, which cannot be too much praised, for the interests of agriculture, the employment of our first parents in Eden, the happiest we can follow, and the most important to our country.”

    1821 July 30. (to Thomas Mann Randolph) “With respect to the boys I never till lately doubted but that I should be able to give them a competence as comfortable farmers, and no station is more honorable or happy than that.”

    Thank you, Tricycle Gardens, for keeping the faith.

  11. This place would probably violate the zoning laws and the sign laws in Fauquier county. I wonder how many permits they need to operate in Richmond?

    Thomas Jefferson and the farmers of his time had the benefit if enormously cheap land to work with. Faced with the problem of land that costs a hundred or more times what it can produce agriculturally in a year, none of those lovely quotations hold a drop of water.

    Even the best rural farming barely makes sense, and the idea of urban farming is sheer economic nonsense.

    • The zoning and signage laws of Fauquier County? Where did last seasons 40,000 pounds of produce come from? And what purpose did it serve?

      • PS – the goal here is not building profit, it’s building society. So Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts remain relevant. Indeed, even more so now, then in his time.

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  14. of course an urban community could own a plot of land upon which to grow food not only for it’s own community but to grow stuff to sell at market prices and use the money to buy more “good food” for their community.

    right?

  15. DJRIPPERT-
    I’m shocked that someone would question the benefit of teaching people how to grow their own food.

    Let’s not pretend we know everything about everyone in a certain demographic. People with good jobs and good pay may not have time or energy to garden, and people without jobs or with poor pay may have time to garden.
    Also, rural america is POOR. Many farmers have become sharecroppers to agricultural companies. Some farmer’s keep personal gardens to eat from, but some farmer’s are buying the cheap, frozen, unpronounceable ingredients products at the grocery store just like everyone else in debt.

    Another thing thing that is bothering me in these comments is the calorie hatred. Everyone realizes that people need calories to survive, right? And if you can only afford one meal a day, you would be wise to choose the cheapest one with the most calories. That gives you energy to use.
    Obviously, this is not ideal.
    But there is much more to nutrition than calories.
    The more time a vegetable is spent off of it’s mother plant, the more nutrition it looses. Also, there are studies proving that organic food has more nutritional value (which has to do with beneficial vitamins, not with calories) than “conventionally” grown food and GMO food. So this is why fresher and “healthier” fast food choices aren’t so much better. They are just less calories for a higher price than the 99 cent menu.

    …a side note that goes against what people have been taught to believe…
    Sugar makes people fat. Natural fat doesn’t make people fat. So eating lots of fruit as a substitute to fast food can make people sick as well.

    I just moved to Richmond, but am sure that the people at Tricycle Gardens are sharing their passion and knowledge with people who are looking to learn.
    The more people sharing with one another the closer we are to solving a lot of our social problems.

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