Rockefeller Center English Roof Gardens – 2007 (remains) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Justice John Roberts did not announce the last day of sessions at the Supreme Court yesterday. The speculation around here is that this means the decision on the new Health Care law will not come down until next Thursday. How will it end? At this point I am fairly neutral. Like John Kerry, I was against it before I was for it, or was I for it before I was against it? Truth is, both David and I are in the “Mend it, don’t end it camp.”
We arrived at this opinion because we understand that under no circumstances will people be denied health care in the US. Insurance aside, people are treated for injuries. If a worker falls off scaffolding and breaks a limb as my son did when he was working his way through college, he ends up in the emergency room. If someone requires surgery for a critical condition as my friend did when she faced gall bladder surgery, it happens. In her case the doctor and hospital absorbed the cost. I have witnessed medical care for many people without insurance.
Insurance is not the issue, medical care is and medical care minus planning is expensive. What we have needed for a long time in the US is rational care. Rational care includes planning for emergencies as well as preventative care, especially for children. Teaching kids to wash their hands is a big preventative measure.
Just yesterday about 40 kids at a local urban summer camp came down with a virus associated with fecal matter. Someone did not wash his hands and everyone got sick.
Rational care includes providing healthy food in the form of school breakfasts and lunches, and the new agriculture bill passed by the Senate does this by extending the temporary food assistance program many people rely on. The Senate also cut expenditures by reducing subsidies to farmers who make over one million dollars per year. Lets see if the House of Representatives can pass its own bill….soon.
The new health care law includes a provision for community gardens which produce nutritious food for inner city residents (kids). Now some might squawk about the cost of subsidizing the purchase of land for community gardens, but cities learned during the nineteenth century that to ignore preventive measures was very costly.
Cities subsequently built water and sewer systems to prevent health crises and they became a very cost-effective way to provide health care. Children who receive fresh wholesome food and water are much more likely to fight off infectious diseases and chronic conditions. I am old enough to remember when children in the South suffered from scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency), pellagra (Niacin or B3) and beri-beri (Thiamine or B1). Today of course the big concern is childhood diabetes.
Nothing warms my heart more than the story of how Bette Midler came to the rescue of community gardens in New York City by purchasing vacant lots the city was going to sell to commercial developers. Sure it cut into the tax base to give up this land, but how much did the city save by ensuring kids had access to good food to say nothing of the exercise of outdoor activity?
I consider the community gardens in my very urban county, which we residents have built over the years with our tax dollars, a worthwhile investment. But our county is comparatively wealthy and can afford to set aside land for gardens. Not all communities fare so well and they need outside support.
Arlington has a densely settled population living in high-rise apartments and condominiums. Every year, detached houses disappear to be replaced with larger buildings. Our Democrat county government has worked with new developments to insure that some land was left for community gardens near the new buildings. The county has also floated bonds to buy houses and tear them down to make way for parkland which often includes community gardens. Thus you can see people tending their plots evenings and weekends, and what a lovely sight that is.
community gardens boston, mass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The county also fosters green buildings which means that many of the newer and some of the older apartment buildings boast roof top gardens. Available space for gardening, i.e., often roofs and balconies in urban areas, led to a demand for lighter soil and pots. The market place responded, and today you can find both lighter soil and pots at your local nursery or other outlets like Gardener’s Supply online.
A few years ago, I worked at Green Spring Gardens in the children’s garden where we taught school kids how to grow things. Today many schools boast vegetable gardens on portions of former playground. The kids tend the gardens as part of their education.
I finally got a peek inside Michelle Obama’s new book on community gardens and ordered it. I will let you know more after I read it, but it looks promising. I think Michelle has done a good thing by promoting home-grown food. All you need is sunshine, a little water, and a pot with soil. You must supply the “elbow grease” as my Dad used to say, but Mother Nature will do the rest.