Community Gardening Program Feeds Those Hungry for Improving San Jose's Poor Neighborhoods

San Jose's Garden to Table program is just one of several initiatives led by CommUniverCity that are collectively giving disadvantaged residents the tools to improve their personal health and the health of their communities.
August 15, 2013, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Currently expanding to all of central San Jose, CommUniverCity has until now focused on Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace, a 11/2 square-mile community that for nearly a century has been the heart of Portuguese life in the valley," writes Lee Romney. "While the city has worked to improve street lighting and clean up graffiti, more than 11,000 university students have teamed with residents on about 200 projects to improve education, the environment, health and more."

Urban agriculture program Garden to Table, which "yields nearly 2,000 pounds of fruit per month and nutrition classes that emphasize healthy, locally sourced meals," is one such effort. In addition, "Justice studies students have worked to expunge residents' criminal records. Business students have honed merchant marketing plans, and urban planning students have helped residents draft their dream for a planned regional transit station: a mixed-use village with a town square connected to a network of trails on abandoned railroad rights-of-way."

"'It's about the present and the future,' said [Dario] Lerma, who in addition to picking fruit for Garden to Table has helped plan CommUniverCity's annual Halloween festival, educating residents about sustainability and helping parents craft costumes from recycled materials. 'We do it because there's pride. It's our neighborhood. We see the outcome, which is the most beautiful part.'"

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Published on Saturday, August 3, 2013 in Los Angeles Times
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