A hollow victory for urban gardening movement

Pub date July 11, 2008
SectionPolitics Blog

When I first heard about current plans to build a “Victory Garden” in Civic Center Plaza — which will be officially planted tomorrow at 10 a.m. in a ceremony featuring Mayor Gavin Newsom and Alice Waters, the pioneering restaurateur who founded Slow Food Nation — I thought it was a really cool idea. Here was the city of San Francisco giving some of its most prime and high profile real estate over to the urban gardening movement, which seeks alternatives to the fossil fuel dependent industrialized food system.
And the Victory Garden concept is great, conjuring up the collective commitment to our national interests that inspired patriotic citzens to plant gardens during the two world wars. Sure, the logistics of tending and securing the garden might be tough, but Newsom seemed to be making a commitment to put city resources behind this important symbolic statement.
Then I heard that they’re going to rip out the garden in a couple months, in my mind reducing the garden to a mere photo op for our jolly green would-be governor. Ick. Just what this country needs, another hollow gesture toward environmental sustainability rather than the bold collective action that we actually need to tackle serious problems like climate change, resource depletion, and a wasteful, polluting, and ineffective global food system.