Sunday, March 22, 2015

Of Asphalt and Cement

Of Asphalt and Cement

There is a lot of new "green space" movements happening across the planet - schools and universities and even hospitals are increasingly putting in gardens.  A recent issue of the Seeds of Diversity magazine  shared several articles about school and college programs that work with seed saving organizations using grants, volunteers and donated seed to create new grow-out programs helping to ensure there will be a variety of plants available to future gardeners. 

I read a post on Facebook that LA has passed a bylaw that reverses other, closed-minded laws…  laws that prevented people from growing gardens in empty lots and unused, uncovered (no asphalt or concrete) lots and spaces. Today, where ever they are allowed - people are taking up shovels and expressing creativity and concern for the environment and where their food is coming from by replacing front lawns (often unused space) into gardens. Restaurants are creating gardens, roof top gardens are created to supply food to people and cafe's inside the building; there are just too many examples to list here.

Depave is one example of many programs and organizations -  Their first project (back in 2008) involved 150 volunteers who helped remove 3,000 square feet of concrete to create the Fargo Forest Garden. Since then Depave has created 30+ such spaces across Portland, Oregan (US) - a total of over 110,000 square feet of green space, which diverts about 2.4 million gallons of rainwater from the storm drains and sewers. 

Check out the hyperlinks in this article and also visit:
** scroll through old blog posts here to find more information too

Creating green spaces with a diverse variety of fruiting and flowering plants where non existed, (whether it is a roof top, a balcony, lawn or parking lot ) can have tremendous benefits. People can actually create micro businesses with their gardens. Green spaces help improve air quality by cleaning the air, releasing oxygen and acting like living filters to help keep down dust, smoke, noise and light pollution. They counteract the Greenhouse Effect of reflective and heat retention surfaces. They protect water sources (rivers, water tables, lakes) and reduce the impact on sewage and storm drain systems. In the heat of summer, parking lots shaded by trees can experience a 31˚ reduction in temperature! One mature tree can remove enough carbon dioxide that it would be like taking 11,000 miles of vehicle travel out of the equation every single year. Green spaces can also save energy for the surrounding buildings and keep cars, play areas and sidewalks cooler.

Imagine a barren old parking lot, broken asphalt, weeds growing through the cracks... unused useless space, good soil buried under a man made seal, hot summer heat and stench of hot asphalt. Now picture a space where fruit, nut and flowering trees shade benches, sidewalks and gardens or lawns. Where wildflowers attract bees and butterflies and birds and more. Where berries and vegetables, fruits and herbs feed the people...

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