Inslee introduces bill to promote community gardens

Congressman Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) recently introduced the Community Gardens Act of 2009 with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) The bill creates a grant program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture to compensate community groups for up to eighty percent of the costs associated with starting and maintaining a community garden.

“Locally, the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods maintains almost two thousand community garden plots on 23 acres of land, which serve almost four thousand urban gardeners in the area,” said Inslee, who represents the 1st Congressional District, which includes Kirkland. “With this legislation, we can help programs like the ones in Seattle and at 21 Acres in Woodinville, and we can expand opportunities to all American households to share in the numerous benefits of local gardening.”

“I’ve introduced this bill to help local groups create new community gardens in neighborhoods around the country,” said Inslee. “Community gardens provide local food sources, strengthen and beautify neighborhoods and let people in urban settings enjoy the benefits of local agriculture. As a parent, I’m also happy to note that community gardens engage families and children in growing their own vegetables, which studies have shown has increased the willingness of children to eat their veggies.”

According to a national study, one million households participated in community gardens in 2008, but an estimated five million households expressed an interest in starting a garden plot near their home. Groups eligible to apply for funds in Inslee’s new grant program include community-development organizations, schools, and state and local governments, among others. By encouraging these groups to construct gardens in their communities, Inslee’s bill will promote nutrition, environmental awareness, and neighborhood development.

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