SAN DIEGO — Aiming to boost access to healthy food while sprucing up blighted properties, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved a new community garden incentive program [earlier this year].
The incentive is expected to have the most significant effect in low-income neighborhoods, where there are often more blighted properties than businesses that sell fresh produce.
The program, which slashes property taxes on properties converted into community gardens, is possible thanks to a 2014 state law that aims to encourage urban farming and eating locally grown produce.
San Diego officials said they expect the incentive to increase the number of community gardens in San Diego beyond the roughly 30 now operating.
County Supervisor Ron Roberts said the county government is scheduled to approve a similar program this summer, extending the incentive to all local unincorporated communities.
No other local cities have taken advantage of the incentive, but Roberts said he hopes that changes. Santa Clara County and the cities of San Francisco and Sacramento adopted the incentives before San Diego.
Community gardens are places where residents with little or no land can come together to grow and harvest fruits and vegetables on individual plots. More and more of them are being created across the nation amid a new emphasis on eating food grown nearby.
Councilman Scott Sherman, an avid gardener who has spearheaded city efforts on the issue, said the incentives will spruce up neglected properties, bring community members closer together and help teach young people the value of gardening.
“It’s a common-sense solution,” he said. “It’s a good life lesson all the way along.”
Supervisor Roberts said the program could help people, especially youngsters, avoid obesity and diabetes…