Food Gardens to Assist the Homeless Population
Stephen Muskett
61

I am an urban farmer. I fill empty spaces with food crops. Land used either with the agreement of the owners or renters, or as a guerilla gardener. Our gardens are in reclaimed containers and anyone can stop and visit and carry one home or stick around and work for garden space and food.

I have daily experience with volunteer/barter or homeless gardeners. The time spent teaching twenty people how to care for food plants only end up with one who stays around more than a time or two can be very discouraging.

Guerilla gardens and food forests can’t solve hunger and malnutrition by themselves. They can’t teach a person who has never learn the relationship between their own labor and the food on their fork. People who “don’t cook,” or who tell me “they don’t understand why anyone would want to work that hard.”

It can’t overcome a learned lifestyle that includes walking to the gas station every morning for a pack of cigarettes, a cup of coffee and a pastry. A choice that leaves people with nothing left for real food.

I can teach people how I grow, I just can’t motivate them to want to.

Guerilla or community gardens need people to tend then, and people willing to eat the food that grows

I continue motivated by people like the elderly homeless man who’s entire face lit up from the taste of his first tomato, or the neighborhood people gradually replacing their front lawn parking with beautifully tended gardens, and a forty year old man nearly in tears, worried about their newly adopted tomato plants. “Are they okay? They have little yellow flowers all over them.”

Those keep me going. I have no illusions about solving hunger.

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