Crack Gardens: A Case Study

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Allowing Renegade (Gardens)
Saint Louis is home to “about 10,000 parcels of vacant land that have come to public ownership involuntarily through tax foreclosure”(Land). A majority of these vacant properties are in low-income neighborhoods, the residents of which, live at least a half mile (often more) away from a grocery store with fresh produce. Saint Louis as a result, is barren, as outlined by the graph provided by the USDA Economic Research Service (pictured right). This type of barrenness is defined by the USDA as a “food desert” . Without access to affordable healthy food, those that live in these neighborhoods have a higher chance of being diagnosed with preventable diseases— such as the number one killer in our country, heart disease.
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The city does absolutely nothing in this process, and restricts the ability to actually relieve themselves of these burdensome parcels of land. My proposal would require the termination of such a lackadaisical approach from the City of Saint Louis. The City would simply allow and encourage the use of vacant, public property that has no imminent (defined as within 2 years) plans for redevelopment. It also would allow “Crack Gardens”(ASLA), the practice of growing plants in a small, restrictive amount of space, such as curb and sidewalk …show more content…
Illegal dumping of materials in vacant lots is a common problem for the city to regulate and maintain, as the land in question is unsupervised the majority of the time. According to a Fox 2 News report, “The Saint Louis is currently spending $4 million dollars a year cleaning up illegally dumped waste” and that, “the trash task force [receives] over 2,000 calls per year”(Fox) Illegal dumping, in turn, contaminates the ground with unknown pollutants that can severely harm, not only human beings, but the every creature who attempts to harvest food from that area, such as birds and insects. This fear of poisoning is one of the main reasons why most people are skeptical of “Food Forests”, and it is understandable to see why. Proposing that the city provide a free, comprehensive soil test for public land, should already be a given. The City of Saint Louis should be compelled to be concerned with the health and quality of our soil, and of possible contaminants to its citizens. Even though this aspect of the proposal seems costly up front, the cost of not having to maintain vacant lots paired with more eyes vigilant to potential “dumpers” poisoning land unnecessarily, will save the city money in the long

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