Urban Land & Water

Urban Agriculture

by | Apr 28, 2017 | urban land & water | 0 comments

Simply put urban agriculture is growing or producing food in a city or heavily populated town or municipality, such as San Antonio.  We extend this definition to include community gardens but acknowledge that these are more civically based intuitions than commerce based.  Typically, when referring to urban agriculture some degree of commercial activity is assumed.

Green Spaces Alliance sees real value in each type urban based agriculture under a broader vision for a sustainable community food system.  According to the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute, a sustainable community food system is a collaborative network that integrates sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management in order to enhance the environmental, economic and social health of a particular place.

Green Spaces Alliance will be working more closely with local partners to cultivate and nourish community foods systems projects and endeavors.  Together we can build a more vibrant and resilient community food system.

Green Spaces Alliance’s Community-Supported Gardening Program started in 2005 as a series of discovery meetings with a wide range of community stakeholders. Those meetings revealed a strong need for additional publicly-accessible green spaces in the city. Stakeholders indicated an awareness of many vacant, underutilized, and unkempt lots and a desire for community gathering spaces where neighbors could come together to nurture the natural environment.

In 2006, the first three pilot gardens (two vegetable and one wildscape) were identified and the program was fully underway in January 2007. Since then, the program has fostered more than 40 community gardens throughout San Antonio.

The program’s involvement in local community-supported green space projects includes guiding neighborhood groups with community organizing; designing and constructing gardens; promoting local gardening practices; providing tools; coordinating volunteers; and teaching the community about conservation, organics, permaculture, and recycling materials.

In 2016 the community gardens program faced a significant budget deficit and began evaluating its model and restructuring services with the goal of moving towards financial viability long-term.  In 2017 Green Spaces Alliance created Urban Land & Water, an umbrella program, which takes a well-rounded approach to urban land resource and water resource management.  Today, the Green Spaces Alliance’s Garden Network continues to flourish.

This new program direction recognizes urban agriculture in its many forms including community gardens, small-production urban farms, hydroponics, aquaponics, food-forests and edible landscapes—to name a few.  The revamped Green Spaces Alliance Gardens Network welcomes all forms of urban agriculture and stresses their importance contributing to the reshaping our community food system.

Today, the program enriches the built environment and quality of life in San Antonio by engaging a broad range of stakeholders who eagerly rally to establish and maintain a diversity of urban green spaces.

These green spaces catalyze community unity across generations and cultures, nurture holistic environmental awareness through service-learning, and contribute to individual health through physical activity, improved natural atmosphere, and quality nutrition. The program grows more than green spaces; it cultivates curiosity, motivation, generosity, and friendliness and raises the next generation to strive for more urban green spaces, access to fresh produce, and civic participation as standards, rather than exceptions.

Our Gardens Network is a growing thriving network that aims to provide gardens and other urban agricultural endeavors with the tools, resources and technical assistance necessary to succeed. The purpose of the garden network is to strengthen communities and gardens while facilitating a deeper understanding of urban agriculture practices. Our goal is to provide support services to the extent that each garden can achieve long-term financial viability. We currently have over 50 gardens participating in this network.

When you become a member of the Green Spaces Alliance gardens network you can take advantage of many benefits and services.

  1. Access to apply for funding through GREEN SPACES ALLIANCE Sustainability Fund
  2. GREEN SPACES ALLIANCE loaner tool program
  3. Technical expertise and consultation
  4. Partnering on educational outreach and workshop events
  5. Notification of free or reduced cost seeds and plants and other donated materials
  6. Social media promotion (promotion of garden events)
  7. Listed on GREEN SPACES ALLIANCE website as a participating garden
  8. Educational and training resources
  9. Underwriting for grants and/or other funding opportunities
  10. Tax exempt status for infrastructure related materials and goods (through the sustainability fund)

Visit 2017 Gardens Network Membership to join the network, or if you prefer to pay by mail or in person, please download the 2017 Gardens Network Membership Form.

For more information, contact Jerry Hess, Urban Land and Water Program Manager: (210) 222-8430 ext. 310.