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Re: Growing edibles on streetsides (Valor tempered with discretion)

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Growing edibles on streetsides (Valor tempered with discretion)
  • From: Tamsin Salehian <tamsin@sparecreative.com>
  • Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 01:48:15 +1100

On 11/2/04 9:01 AM, "Pat_Elazar@cwb.ca" <Pat_Elazar@cwb.ca> wrote:

> Hi Lisa!
> I agree first with the caveats raised by Adam & Judy.
> Having said that, I'm sure that ALL urban agriculture risks contamination
> by cars, pets & drunks.
> So why not use that curb strip for some hardy roots, ancient/ceremonial
> grains or dry soup beans that will not be eaten raw?
> Or even designate the Kurb zone for a processing garden & make an
> educational event of canning & autoclaving the entire output?  Just stay
> away from the salad greens though....
>                     "Lisa Coven"
Hi Lisa,

I have known many a gardener who has taken a sad patch of mown grass on the
nature strip and planted vegies and flowers, also I've seen these spaces
planted out with natives to attract birds and pollinators into the area and
also as fantastic places for big open bins for green waste to be donated by
neighbours who aren't interested in gardening but are keen to have their
nutrient load fall onto another persons vegie yield. Personally I wouldn't
grow food if there is a lot of car traffic on the street but I don¹t see a
huge difference between gardening in front of a house on a quiet street or
gardening in a small courtyard or balcony of a row house on a very busy

How about planting cropping trees either for fruit or nuts?

One thing about kerbside gardening is that it is immediate and visual, and I
think anyone who starts gardening on their curb usually has a political
motivation so it is often a statement as well as a need for more space. Most
of the people I have spoken to about growing their vegies on a nature strip
are prepared to see produce walk, but also talk about the community building
that takes place, neighbours actually interacting! And also about the thrill
of growing food out there in town/suburbs.

I think you have to be fairly shrewd in your assessment of site not just for
the practical health reasons (in my opinion any diverse planting is better
than bare dirt or a monoculture of grass) but you need to be fairly
sensitive to the feelings of others in the street so as to protect yourself
from animosity. Also I think things change when kerbside garden is initiated
by individuals who are utilising any land they can, and community gardens
who have to think more clearly about liability issues and health and safety.
I am not saying that gardening in a contaminated site is good, just that
often you don¹t get to pick the best spots on earth to make your patch of

Another option could be growing vegies in 44 gallon drums or other large
difficult to remove containers and above trampling/doggy height. It'll be
interesting to hear where your community gets to on this. It is a rare to
find any site which is uncontaminated. The pollution caused by growing veg
with chemicals and shipping them around the country needs to be weighed
against growing organic vegies in a site which has air pollution and maybe
soil pollution but is in front of your house. How is a community garden
sited underneath an LA freeway a whole lot different to a patch in between a
kerb and house? In an ideal world we wouldn't have pollution, only nutrients
to be recycled, and hopefully through gardening some of our systems can be
nearer to closed.

> There has been recent discussion with growing concern about growing
> edibles in the area between the street and the sidewalk in my community.
> I have been trying to find substantial research on the risks of eating
> food grown in this area or so close to the street.  Perhaps there are no
> known risks or even ill effects but I also have not found any community
> that supports and encourages urban dwellers to grow food in these areas.
> I appreciate all the feedback and direction that anyone may have on
> this subject.
> Thanks
> Lisa Coven
> Conservation Legacy Program
> Burlington Area Community Gardens
> Burlington Parks and Recreation Department
> 645 Pine Street, Suite B
> Burlington, Vermont 05401
> 802- 863-0420
> fax- 802-862-8027

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