By Victor Manuel Ramos
City dwellers use their green thumbs to strengthen neighborhood bonds in community gardens
Amaury Diaz is proud to show off the shoots of tomatoes, bell peppers, pumpkins and black-eyed peas that he planted two weeks ago.
“This is my farm,” a beaming Diaz says as he leans down to inspect their leaves and feel the soil before watering.
The 72-year-old painter who lives in downtown Orlando is not admiring an expanse of crops. His “farm” is a 4-by-12 foot dirt patch surrounded by chain-link fence on city property.
He is one of about 20 urban farmers taking advantage of a program to use city parkland for vegetable gardening. The gardeners are part of what appears to be a movement toward harvesting organic produce cheaply and sustainably.
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