“You know, organic apples from Whole Foods taste better.
Sure, they’re three times the price as in the supermarket, but don’t you want to eat organic?”
We all know this to be true, and while some of us can pay three times more for a more tasty, organic apple, many of the world cannot. In fact, the word “organic” is nearly synonymous these days with “affluent.” This is because the organic rage has taken over the rich but hasn’t trickled down to the masses yet.
Organic, however, is not affluent. It’s literally gardening in its most basic, natural form. In New York City alone, there is a movement of over 500 community gardens joining together to redistribute resources to poor communities that are systemically deprived of healthy food. The benefits of community-based gardening extend beyond food security, as organic gardens provide fresh vegetables, improve dietary intake, and also stimulate family and social relationships via community gardening associations.
As much of western world farmers are reaching their retirement age, community gardens could play an active role in informing and perhaps inspiring a new generation to become involved with and passionate about growing food. Diversifying the food system with community gardens will benefit the economy in deprived areas and create competition between product quality and value.
But not everyone can have an organic garden in his/her backyard, or on a more basic level, a home supermarket that sells fruits and vegetables. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 23 million Americans live in “food deserts” – areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, particularly ones composed of predominantly lower-income neighborhoods and communities.
Community gardens are a way for communities to come together and coalesce. All that is needed is someone to grow. Most community gardens already have volunteers and staff, so it would just take a transition out of growing plants and into agriculture to grow food.
With our interactive map, we at the Geme.io app are trying to create communities that share and help each other in a variety of ways. Our objective is to share information surrounding locations for community gardens, and as our app is free, anybody can create a Social Geme (virtual marker) with either information about surplus food to share, or a Promotion Geme to promote food for sale.
As of March 2012, over 46 million Americans were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often referred to as food stamps. Daniel Bowman Simon, who helped spearhead the White House vegetable garden, encourages SNAP beneficiaries to “grow” their benefits by utilizing a 1973 amendment to the Food Stamp Act that allows food stamp recipients to use their benefits to buy seeds. To accommodate SNAP beneficiaries, he suggests that each community garden should be given a credit card machine with the capability to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, which would allow using the benefits to buy the actual produce from community gardens instead of seeds.
This could prove quite difficult to achieve. But what about cryptocurrencies in blockchain and food stamps? The same hype driving cryptocurrency speculation has also attracted banks, governments, and corporations—the same authorities it was designed to circumvent. Imagine if the New York State legislature decided to issue all food stamp vouchers in the crypto form to better manage their future use. The invitation to transform distributed-ledger systems into the ultimate tool of authoritarian control might be too great a temptation for human nature to forgo.
At Geme.io we are working on an innovative system where tokens (in future cryptocurrencies to be used to buy things) can be rewarded for any community work – growing a community garden, giving food away, helping a neighbor through her depression, or sharing anything that one does not need anymore. The difference is that it is not Geme.io which will decide who earned the token, the community will.