I had a realization today as I was walking to Escalante Park from the light rail:
Wow, this neighborhood has a lot of open space.
To check exactly how much, I looked up the most recent aerial photographs of the neighborhood. I limited my view to the areas north of Apache Blvd, south of University Dr, west of Price Freeway, and east of Smith Rd. I found about 10 large empty lots scattered around the area. In total, these lots take up an area of 390,000 sq. feet. Now, assuming you haven't gotten bored and gone back to checking your Facebook status, you should be asking me: "Neal, why are doing this?" The answer my friends is extrapolation.
The community garden is approximately 1500 square feet and is on pace to produce around 300 pounds of produce in our first year. In our defense, basil doesn't weigh that much. Next year I'll try and grow more watermelon to bring that statistic up. However, I will continue my calculations assuming the fairly low yield of 300 pounds. This equates to 1 pound of vegetables per 5 square feet per year.
This means if one were to convert all the bare dirt from these large empty lots, the community could produce 78,000 pounds of produce on the first year (39 tons!). Since the USDA estimates that the average American consumes 428 pounds of vegetables per year. This means the neighborhood could provide 182 people with vegetables for a year (and one person for just a quarter of the year).
Just a little food for thought the next time you walk to the light rail.