Portable micro gardens like the sub-irrigated EarthBox provide an ideal way to bring urban food production to the people who most need it.
Why are we not doing more of this in New York City?
Funding dirt farming projects exclusively is a foolish political mistake. Unfortunately, the majority of politicians know little about more modern methods of urban food production. They intuitively believe urban farming in the dirt is a good thing when it is not.
Dirt farming in the city is less productive, runs the risk of contaminated soil and leads young people to very low paying jobs that cannot provide a livable wage in the high cost city. Learning about modern sub-irrigated food production systems however is a good start on a path to learning about science and technology and career paths that can lead to liveable wages.
SALEM, NJ — Members of the Salem Housing Authority’s WorkPlus program were out planting and preparing box gardens on a small site in West Side Court here last week — just one of a number of initiatives under WorkPlus to help low-income and rehabilitated residents develop workforce skills.
The garden will be harvested through the fall, with the produce going to needy members of the senior citizen community in Salem Towers, Kent Avenue Apartments and Pennsville Towers.
Though it’s only an example of the product of the WorkPlus program, even on a small scale, the garden illustrates the program’s initiative.
According to Dr. Isaac Young, executive director with the Housing Authority, the goal of WorkPlus is to assist Housing Authority tenants with finding entry-level and permanent employment.
Many tenants are low-income, and others have been recently rehabilitated into society after serving time in prison. WorkPlus helps these individuals develop skills to get themselves off public assistance, and into the workforce, said Young.
“It does them good by providing additional resources to develop life skills, and work skills,” he said. “With low-income housing, once an area has that type of client, it’s nice to have a program to help them develop workforce skills.”
The WorkPlus program is a joint effort between the authority and the Mid-Atlantic States Career and Education Center.
According to Glen Donelson, executive director of Mid-Atlantic, 80-percent of those placed into jobs through WorkPlus remain in the workforce — creating a benefit to not only the workers, but also to their children, and to taxpayers who no longer have to float them through public assistance.
“This is truly a collaborative effort and a strong partnership,” said Donelson. “It teaches important skills, and also increases pride in the community.”