Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Scarcity of Gardeners

The Times has an interesting piece today on the scarcity of urban gardeners, at least in certain parts of New York City. The writer visits a number of the urban gardens in the city and interviews a number of the gardeners and others, including a retired urban extension worker from Cornell.  The pattern seems to be that some gardens thrive, others fall into disuse, partially depending on the surrounding area and partially depending on the interest and energy of a dedicated gardener. 
But John Ameroso, the Johnny Appleseed of the New York community garden movement, suspects that the number of present-day gardens — around 800 — may be half what it was in the mid-1980s.
In his long career as an urban extension agent for Cornell University, Mr. Ameroso, 67, kept a log with ratings of all the plots he visited. “I remember that there were a lot of gardens that were not in use or minimally used,” he said. “Into the later ’80s, a lot of these disappeared or were abandoned. Or maybe there was one person working them. If nothing was developed on them, they just got overgrown.”
Seems to me the article undermines any assumption there's a long waiting list for urban garden plots in the city, some areas have waiting lists, some don't. The enthusiasm for gardening is similar to other enthusiasms, sometimes hot, sometimes cold.  It's not a firm foundation for redoing the basis on which America grows its food.

(In my own community garden in Reston, there is a waiting list.  Reston has expanded the area in which I garden twice now.  But Restonites are likely to be enthusiastic, at least enough of them to fill a waiting list.  We're a cosmopolitan bunch, Korea, Vietnam, Africa, Latino, some probably suffering from nostalgia for their childhood, like me, and some falling prey to the current fad.)

1 comment:

On the Public Record said...

I'm not surprised. When I managed a garden, the turnover was pretty high. There were a lot of enthusiastic beginners and a lot of people who quit after a year. Only two of us have persisted for more than a few years.