Christopher told me a few weeks ago that he had signed us up for a conference on gardening this weekend. I have decided that maybe it was good that my first attempt at gardening became a snack for the dogs because my latest attempt is looking a little too yellow. I figured that I could benefit from some tips. What I did not realize, was that when he said “weekend”, he meant that it started on Friday night. The last thing I wanted to do after working late nights all week was drive almost an hour in traffic to a conference. But I went. I knew that once we got there I would be fine, it was just difficult to get motivated.
I was right, and I am glad we went.
The conference was not about gardening as I thought it would be, but instead about Food Justice. Throughout the conference, community gardens were one of the solutions offered to start making progress. The two speakers on Friday night were impressive. Rufina Juarez, a woman who was a part of the South Central Community Garden in Los Angeles, spoke about her community’s struggle to keep their garden, and the need for healthy food options in low income areas. The 30 tons of produce from the new location of their farm is taken to farmer’s markets in South Central. The fight to keep the community project was chronicled in an Academy Award nominated documentary called “The Garden“.
LaDonna Redman from Chicago spoke of how she learned about food and became active due to her son’s food allergies. A common theme from the conference was that many people seem to feel that people in need deserve food, but it is less common for us to think that they deserve healthy food.
Additionally, due to the current economic situation, more people are struggling and trying to find less expensive ways to eat. In fact, the New York Times reported yesterday that restaurants are starting to offer menu items such as the cleverly named “Bailout Package” and other reduced price meal options in an attempt to draw customers into their restaurants, many which are trying to stay open.
The Conference was organized by the San Diego chapter of a group called Food Not Lawns. We went to sessions on traditional farming, local food stamp participation, and nutritional racism. One thing that struck me was the dedication of the community to trying to solve some of these issues.
However, the dancing and singing vegetables at lunch stole the show.