At first glance, you might not think about a community garden as a crime fighting tool–but I do.
Many of our neighborhoods have planted community gardens and in each case, once a garden is established, crime has dropped in that neighborhood.
Take the community garden on East Gobbi Street near the railroad tracks, for example. Before the garden, our officers responded to calls in that area many times a day because of fights, drunkenness, and other illegal activities. Since the addition of the community garden, the calls have gone way down. It is definitely a safer place to be.
Another great example is Vinewood Park. A few years ago this area was known for fights, and drug and alcohol use. But the addition of a community garden transformed it into a great place to hang out, have a picnic, play soccer or even throw a Frisbee.
The transformative power of community gardens is clear. That’s why I am so appreciative of efforts by the Community Veteran’s Garden and North Coast Opportunities’ Gardens Project. They’re working together to build a community garden on North Oak Street, an area that has experienced vandalism and fights amongst local schoolkids.
Project organizers Sarah Marshall and John Johns, along with a host of committed volunteers, are truly making our community a better place by working so hard to get a garden established. Although their work was delayed by recent vandalism, I have no doubt they will install a wonderful garden—helping the police department a bit in our mission to fight crime.
Of course, gardens do more than fight crime; they also provide great vegetables. My mom always said, “Eat your vegetables!” because she knew veggies help reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cancer, among other health benefits.
Last year the Imperial College of London released a study about the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. The study found that every adult should eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables a day–and that ten portions is even better. If a person were to eat ten portions a day, this research indicated they’d reduce many health risks, including a 24 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease, a 33 percent reduction in the risk of strokes and a 13 percent reduction in the risk of cancer.
If you’re not in the mood to do your own gardening, consider shopping at our local Ukiah Farmers’ Market. The Ukiah Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday morning (rain or shine) in the Alex Thomas Plaza. Although the Saturday morning market is the largest in Mendocino County, it continues to maintain its small town feel.
Community members say they shop at the Farmers’ Market because of the quality and taste of the fresh produce grown by local famers. Our temperate weather in spring and our hot summers provide local farmers with ideal conditions for growing delicious produce from May through June, and flavorful fruits and vegetables from July through October. We also benefit from our proximity to the coastal climate, which provides cool-weather crops and fresh seafood.
In addition to locally grown food, the Ukiah Farmers’ Market hosts family-friendly educational events and entertainment by local musicians. Many of Ukiah’s residents also come to enjoy the friendly atmosphere, where customers can relax and enjoy each other’s company while they savor beverages and fresh-baked pastries. If you’d like to know more, visit the Friends of the Ukiah Farmers Market Facebook page.
Whether you grow your own veggies or purchase locally grown veggies at the Farmers’ Market, you’re doing your body a favor. And if you participate in a community garden, you know what crime fighting and veggies have in common—it’s our gardens!
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.