Growing food among bus exhaust and asphalt

In a neighborhood on the east side of San Salvador, one man, a retired agricultural engineer, is growing food on the median strips between the paved roads that crisscross his city. Mr. Argueta cultivates onions, carrots, zucchini, peppers, and other vegetables on parcels of otherwise idle land around the his neighborhood. On the largest median strip than runs the length of the main street in his colonia, he recently harvested red beans, corn, cucumbers and radish. The green of the plants contrast the grey of the streets and the clouds of black exhaust that emanate from the old buses that crowd the roads. Argueta graduated from the National School of Agronomy more than 30 years before, and has been troubled by the increasing urbanization and disconnect from the land while at the same time seeing those new urban-dwelling residents struggle to afford food. A square meter of land can provide a good amount of food for a small family, and while large tracts of land inside the city are difficult or expensive to come by, there are plenty of small pieces of land sitting idle, with nothing but a bit of grass – if anything – in its dirt surface. So, he decided to start a movement that would make use of underutilized land and help people gain access to fresh food or staple grains/legumes. Already, he has gotten several families on board and support from the local government. Argueta hopes to continue to expand his small-plot revolution to every available space around the city as well as onto the roofs of local dwellings. So roof-top gardening just may be coming to El Salvador! On a slightly more cynical note, I do wonder how the exhaust from the cars and buses impacts the health of the produce that grow “breathing” in this polluted air. However, I am sure the benefits outweigh those potential risks, so I hope Argueta’s plan to expand comes to fruition!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Riley says:

    Hey! I came across your site while researching urban gardens in El Salvador. Do you possibly know Mr. Argueta’s first name or a little more about his project, or a way to contact him?
    Best, Riley

    1. No, sorry, I don’t. I’ve not met him personally, sorry.

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