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How Could We Strengthen Social Support For Food Gardening?

Boerin met een schoffel op het land, Willem Witsen, c. 1884 – c. 1887

An important element in the Food Gardeners Networks would be the human touch. Modern communications technology often delivers information in ways that are cold and lifeless.

By George Kent
World Nutrition


My purpose here is not simply to advocate food gardening, but to explore ways to facilitate strong person-to-person social support for food gardening. This could improve the food supply for those who need it and also strengthen our caring for one another’s well-being. Many people who produce food in their gardens gladly share it with their neighbors. They also share their knowledge and enthusiasm for gardening. This is a huge underutilized resource. (Kent 2016; Kent 2011, 110-121; Kent 2018a; Kent 2019a).

Producing food can be very worthwhile. It is a pleasant way to get exercise, improve the environment, have a healthier diet, relax and improve mental health, and save money. There are other benefits that we are just beginning to understand (Cassella 2020; Roslund et al. 2020). Here, the focus is on social aspects of food gardening. Knowing how to produce your own food establishes a do-it- yourself safety net, increasing your capacity to cope with disasters and fluctuating food prices. Food gardening improves food security, helps to strengthen local communities, and empowers individuals and their families. As I pointed out elsewhere:

Home and community-based food production can be useful in many ways, and not just for the immediate nutritional value. To grasp the potential importance of household food production, we can fantasize about how things would change if all people could easily produce all the food they needed at little or no cost. Then, in economic terms, people would not be so dependent on one another. People who produced food on their own would not have to accept miserable jobs. They could engage in economic relationships when they wanted to, but they would have more freedom to turn away and say no. (Kent 2011, 121)

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