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Community gardening through the eyes of one man
by Doug Resh, Phoenix Food Examiner
In 2001 the Phoenix Revitalization Corporation (PRC) received a grant from the State of Arizona – Department of Economic Security to fund four community gardens within the Central City South neighborhood, giving new life to this area. Community gardens are defined as a facilitated set of activities leading to neighborhood beautification, community organizing, food security, preservation of cultural traditions, and building community satisfaction by contributing to friendlier, more cohesive neighborhoods.
At the helm of leading the revival bringing these four community gardens to fruition is Job Salinas Hernandez. With a career path in construction/maintenance in December of 1999 he suddenly was stricken with an aneurism that nearly cost him his eyesight. After overcoming this obstacle through various surgeries he decided to journey back to his roots. His father was a master gardener in Chihuahua, Mexico where at the time agriculture was the economic driving force. Job speaks of days when his father needed to take a bus 40 miles to get seeds for their farm in order to have enough crops to help feed a village and how he as a child helped sell produce. Bringing this knowledge and experience from when he was a young boy to now teaching others how to plant and harvest is what he is most proud in accomplishing with this project.
Next steps for the community gardens are to begin planting a completely organic crop to sell at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market to help the members become self-reliant. By providing opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections and a catalyst for neighborhood and community development Job continues to achieve his goals of bringing fun with food.