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Rihanna Tilot, left, and Vera Hogenson enjoy fresh strawberries at Partridge Creek Farm Cleveland Street Garden in Ishpeming. (Newspaper archive photo)

Partridge Creek Farm volunteer Jane Honeycutt, left, and PCF Director of Programs and Partnerships, May Tsupros, prepare a salsa snack for the volunteers before they start weeding the flowerbeds at Inspiration Orchard . (Newspaper archive photo)

Lori Lancaster from Negaunee and her grandson Quinn Lancaster weed the flower beds during a volunteer day at Partridge Creek Farm Inspiration Orchard in Ishpeming. (Newspaper archive photo)

LANSING – In the western Upper Peninsula, climate change is hurting local food sources.

Warming water temperatures reduce fish spawning and snow compresses less during the winter, harming wild rice, said Rachael Pressley, regional planner at the Hancock-based Western UP Planning and Development Region. .

Warming habitat allows new species of plants and trees to migrate north, as well as invasive pests, she said.

For example, Drosophila – a type of small fruit fly – lays its eggs in berries, causing them to ripen and die too quickly to be harvested. They can now survive in the UP because the climate has warmed.

As the effects of climate change impact daily necessities like food security, community gardens can function as an adaptation pathway, said Jennifer Hodbod, associate professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at State University of Canada. Michigan.

Pressley is a member of the Western UP Food Systems Collaborative, a grassroots movement working to repair the UP food system damaged by climate change and the lack of grocery stores in rural areas.

The collaboration helps build gardens through community programs and in schools, shelters, and low-income housing. It also encourages edible landscaping and foraging.

Pressley said, “A big part of our job is to remember and question this mindset of scarcity, and realign ourselves with the abundance we see all around.”

Community gardens can help residents not to depend solely on grocery stores for their food supply, Hodbod said.

Community gardens can also relieve heat islands – urban areas warmer than outside the city – and can be an opportunity to use wastewater.

Besides tangible benefits, Hodbod said gardens can benefit a community socially through knowledge sharing and creating a sense of oneness. It can teach alternative approaches to food production.

“There is also an educational opportunity there to show local communities what foods you can grow and what a diverse diet looks like,” she said.

Hodbod said this was especially true in rural areas, where climate change has impacted growing seasons and created environments conducive to invasive species.

Kirk Jones, managing director of Project Grow, an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit community garden, said the community development aspect is another big benefit.

“Community building is a valuable part of this. Like I said, you meet people and it’s very easy to get involved. It is not bureaucratic. Jones said.

According to a report by Margaret Walkover of the University of Hawaii-Manoa and Linda Helland of the California Department of Public Health, community strengthening can help fend off the mental stress that comes with seeing and feeling the effects of weather events. extremes.

These mental health issues can range from “Transient distress with longer-term symptoms”, even going as far as post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Research shows that positive social support is an essential factor in developing and maintaining the physical and mental resilience of people in all health states, from robust to very symptomatic” said the report.

Community spaces, such as community gardens, can contribute to this positive social support. These spaces allow people from different socio-economic backgrounds to support each other, according to the report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Participants in Project Grow’s 20 or so gardens include residents of apartment buildings who would otherwise not have access to land and owners whose lots are unsuitable for cultivation, Jones said.

While community gardens can be beneficial both environmentally and socially, there are limitations due to the efficiency, scale and accessibility of many gardens. Jones said he was not sure community gardens could be a plausible solution to climate change due to their small scale.

“Nationally, are there really less emissions created by someone who grows their own produce, which may require them to drive their car a few, three miles every time they visit the garden for a very small amount of production ”, Jones said.

Hodbod said urban gardens are often not the most efficient way to grow produce, and unless linked to an organization that gives food to food insecure people, they don’t reach often not those who need it most.

Pressley said it’s because often those who have time to garden aren’t the ones who need food the most.

“Only people who can afford the time to garden there are able to do it, and so people who really need garden space still can’t because of the way community gardens are usually built – usually further away – and they are not where people live ”, said Pressley. “They are generally dominated by people who already own their own land or can afford to buy their own food.”

Hodbod said equitable access can be improved with free tools and seeds and by creating gardens in schools to make gardening people younger.

Pressley said the Western UP Food Systems Collaborative bridges this gap by making seeds and compost available and through a mutual aid program, where those who have gardens planted in their gardens for anyone who needs the crops to take.

Residents who grow their own food in community gardens may offer an alternative to buying at the grocery store. In this step aside from capitalism, Pressley sees the potential of community gardens to mitigate the effects of climate change on food systems.

By growing their own food, residents can become more resilient, she said.

“My vision is the same as the people who came before me”, Pressley said, “Which is a more equitable and just food system, where all beings – not just people – can thrive, can eat seasonally, and can be connected to the earth and to each other.” “

Hope O’Dell writes for Great Lakes Echo.

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