Is this the best we can do? Flowers or Food?

Cherokee Street, South of Downtown Denver

I'm sat on a beautiful street near downtown.  It's the kind of street where you would want to be.  We all know the type.  There's money here.  You can see it in the care of the sidewalks and particularly in the landscaping.  As I'm sitting here though, the thought keeps coming to mind.  Is this the best we can do?  

As I'm looking at these beautiful flowers, the stark reality is coming to mind that these flowers are doing little more than beautifying.  Imagine how many people this one garden could feed if it were planted with vegetables.  The aesthetic would be different, but none less beautiful.  I would argue it would be more beautiful if it were a community garden, knowing that it was a space that was helping to improve the lives of those who could eat from it as well as the lives of those who tended it.  Alas, a pipe dream. 

According to, approximately 95 percent of agriculture production is for export.  Those exports go into the commodity food market, which many experts say is on the verge of collapse, creating a global food crisis.  I don't want to focus on the doom and gloom, but to me, it just makes sense to localize food production.

Turning wasted space into gardens to feed a community.

I was intrigued when I saw Ron Finley's video on TED about Guerrilla Gardening in South Central Los Angeles where people are out on the streets, finding under-utilized plots of land for growing food in places you wouldn't think possible.  If they are able to do this in LA in areas where there is urban blight, why are we not setting the example in areas where the economy is flourishing?  

A teacher puts an entire community to work, feeding itself.

Another amazing example is in the TED talk by Stephen Ritz, a teacher in the Bronx in New York who has turned his classroom into a green machine which now provides food for the community, and jobs for his students, many of whom come from severely impoverished or under privileged homes.

For all of the time, effort, energy, and water that is used to grow flowers, could we not grow some amazing community gardens?