Conserving Water and Increasing Food Security in South Texas
Green Spaces Alliance Community Gardens Program Teams-up with the Junior League of San Antonio and New Belgium Brewery to Conserve Texas Water and Increase Food Security
Green Spaces Alliance
Water conservation is a key element of food security. Recently, in communities all over Texas, water utilities proposed bans on outdoor watering in an attempt to save the precious resource by turning off the faucet. Plus, for the first time in history, the Texas Water Development Board predicts a water deficit within 10 years because of population growth driven by Texas’ prosperity.
As facilitators of over 30 community gardens across San Antonio, Green Spaces Alliance (GSA) needs your support as we work with neighborhood groups, backyard gardeners, and local organizations to teach Texans how to conserve water, grow local produce, and maintain a healthy and beautiful urban environment.
GSA plans to launch a full-scale water sustainability initiative alongside our food security efforts. The initiative is designed to encourage gardeners to make educated and valuable choices regarding the garden design, irrigation, plant selection, and other water conservation techniques. Much of the research is complete and we are preparing for the implementation phase. Now we need your contribution to help us continue our efforts. Local gardeners are watching to see if the public will successfully support their efforts to reduce water consumption and improve food security. If we can’t garner enough support, they will have to either run the tap or shut down their gardens.
GSA has been working with community groups since 2006 to develop community gardening in San Antonio, and you’ve already heard about some of our success. With just three pilot gardens on board in early 2007, the program has enjoyed — and earned – remarkable success over the years. Today, hundreds of residents maintain 33 community gardens scattered all over the city. Each year, GSA hosts 10 or more education events which help gardeners keep up with regionally-appropriate techniques, and some 400 volunteers help us coordinate all these activities. We are in a position for the program to grow substantially further in the immediate future, provided access to increased resources.
Together we can promote water conservation and food security. By doing so we will improve the quality of life for San Antonians, beautify our community, reduce cases of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease through better nutrition and increased physical activity, and offer viable alternatives during the economic downturn. If we don’t take action to feed ourselves and protect our drinking water supply, who will?
GSA and our partners have already learned that 16.9 percent of the Bexar County population lives in poverty. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010) About 75 percent of the community gardens within the GSA network are located in census tracts that have a median income between $0 and $28,470 (2000 U.S. Census). GSA assists many of these underprivileged communities by providing them with the funding, resources, guidance, and hands-on support needed to start their own community gardens – helping to break the cycle of food insecurity and educating the population about water conservation in San Antonio.
According to surveys, the frequency with which patrons visited GSA community gardens showed a statistically significant correlation (p < .05) with a number of positive health factors, such as feeling more fit and eating more fruits and vegetables. Additionally, how often patrons visited GSA community gardens was significantly correlated with a host of favorable environmental behaviors, such as refraining from pesticides and fertilizers, growing more drought tolerant plants, and attending green industry trade shows and farmer’s markets.
This opportunity is tremendous. If we can change water consumption habits by addressing the types of and ways that food is consumed locally, every resident in San Antonio has the potential to make a major impact on water conservation.
Please make a tax-deductible contribution to the GSA Community Gardens Program, a 501(c)(3) organization to support our water sustainability and food security initiative. Not only is this right for San Antonio, it’s right for your health and our environment as well.
Please visit www.greensatx.org/support to make your generous and much needed contribution.