Thursday, June 05, 2008

Demand for plots in community gardens

As food prices continue to rise, many urbanites are beginning to share Fairman's reasoning. From Boston to Seattle, municipal officials and community organizers are finding an increased demand for plots in community gardens as more residents look to grow their own food.

For city dwellers who don't own outdoor space, community garden plots -- which are typically owned by cities or nonprofit organizations -- are their answer to suburban backyard gardens.

Under a common type of community garden model, users pay an annual fee for the privilege of growing plants on a plot of land within a larger garden. In Portland, Ore., the fee for a 400-square-foot plot of land is $50. But the value of food grown on that land, according to Leslie Pohl-Kosbau, the director of the Portland Parks and Recreation community gardens program, can be many times greater.

"A person, if they're a really good gardener, can raise $500 to $1,000 worth of food on a 20-by-20-foot plot, depending on their skills and by the way they garden," she said.

Pohl-Kosbau said that, generally, it's the desire for fresh, higher quality produce that largely drives Portland's community gardeners. But the recent increase in demand for plots in the city, she said, is at least partly due to rising food prices.

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