Community gardens were thrust into the news this summer because of thieves and vandals.
Now, because of the drought, growing local has gained some attention again, this time it comes from the U.S.D.A. in Washington D.C.
Fresh, healthy produce planted in boxes, grown until ripe and then picked to be eaten, it’s an ordinary summertime activity.
U.S.D.A. Deputy Undersecretary Joani Walsh visited Omaha Thursday on a follow up trip from her office earlier in the year. She was joined by the mayor’s office, along with members of local government. The goal was to grow local community gardens to the next level and connect more people with more fresh, locally grown food.
“It’s is both creating more opportunities in urban area and as well as creating opportunities for folks who are growing outside (that market) to get that product to market,” Joani Walsh, U.S.D.A. Deputy Undersecretary said.
The idea is simple, to fund, support and grow local gardens, farmers markets and food pantries.
The Charles Drew Health Center's Farmer’s Market is just one example of proving locally grown food in a dense, urban population.
"We know that we can connect the producers in our community to the individuals and citizens in our community the better off we are,” Mary Baluff, with the Douglas County Health Department said.
This year, reaching that goal was made difficult the U.S.D.A. said. "We recognize this has been an exceptionally difficult time with the drought. The U.S.D.A. is doing everything we can to support the Nebraska farmers, ranchers and communities at this time,” Walsh said.
At Wenningoff's Farm they call it expensive mud, battling through the dry conditions using a $100,000 irrigation system to grow local produce. Wenningoff is also an example of local food, supporting local communities because the surplus here is donated to the Food Bank of the Heartland.
This year rainfall in Omaha, year to date is just over 18 inches. Last year’s year to date amount reached just over 24 inches.
Local economist Ernie Goss said Thursday the drought and difference in rainfall was not only hurting farmers but local businesses, forecasting slower growth in the near future because of it.