The Conservancy Was Inspired by Public Health Dir. Eric Walsh

In featured photo: L to R, bottom row: Susan Kranwinkle, Marilyn Brumder, Halaine Rose. Top row: Dr. Holt Rose, Susan Osen, Dr. Eric Walsh, Eileen Read, Jessica Korzenecki, George Brumder.

The 30-plus community leaders who created the Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy have been greatly influenced by Dr. Eric Walsh, our city’s Director of Public Health, in focusing our philanthropy on our city’s “food desert” areas.

A group of The Conservancy’s founders met with Dr. Walsh n November 2012, to seek his views on Pasadena’s needs for community gardens and on how best to structure a donor collective to assist the city. Dr. Walsh identifies food deserts as neighborhoods having a scarcity of grocery stores and an abundance of fast food and convenience stores. (See attached map.) Food-desert areas, he notes in his department’s Quality of LIfe 2012 Index, also tend to be densely populated with lower-income, minority residents, and he recommends community gardens (along with farmers’ markets and more grocery stores) to bring healthy food to Pasadenans who need it.

“Community gardens are plots of land used to cultivate plants, either to eat or just for recreation. Community gardens provide a form of physical activity, help reduce blood pressure and alleviate muscle tension, and provide free or inexpensive produce. Strong evidence shows that gardeners consume vegetables more frequently than their non-gardener counterparts,” notes Dr Walsh in the Community Gardens section of his report. “Community gardens provide a forum for local residents to relax and connect with other community members,” he added.”

He also noted that our city is hoping to develop community gardens throughout the city. The Conservancy was formed to help our cash-strapped city in this effort.

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Above, a page from the Pasadena Public Health Department’s Quality of Life 2012 Index shows an uneven distribution of grocery stores throughout city neighborhoods. While affluent residents prefer to drive to grocery stores, residents in dense, low-income minority neighborhoods suffer without grocery stores because they are more likely to rely on public transportation.