Community gardens are becoming a more appealing way to beautify neighborhoods, and to bring communities together. Perhaps you do not have the space to have a garden at your own home, in which case a community plot would be a wonderful opportunity.
What is Community Gardening?
Community gardens are a concept that has been around for the past few decades. They were started primarily in urban areas to provide green spaces and gardening opportunities for those without the space. These gardens are often placed on empty lots that are donated either by the city or by the landowners. Some community gardens are run by non-profit organizations, and are targeted to low income families. Many times, colleges and universities are involved in getting the gardens started.
Often, community gardens are split into individual plots that each person or family is responsible for. However, sometimes the space is used communally with everyone pitching in and then splitting up the harvested crops. Many gardens use only organic practices, and require that participants do the same. Classes are often offered to help those who have not gardened before.
Many times there is a nominal fee in order to participate in community gardening. These fees are often waived for families who cannot afford it, although those families may be asked to do extra work and maintenance of the garden in addition to tending their own plots.
Benefits of community gardening
There are so many benefits of community gardening that it would be hard to list them all. Gardening has become a lost skill for many due to time and space constraints. This has often been thought of as a rural activity, but there has been a resurgence of gardening in urban and suburban areas. Aside from building community, there are other benefits as well:
- Preserves green spaces
- Provides teaching opportunities for children
- Brings neighbors from a wide variety of backgrounds together for a common cause
- Reduces crime in the gardening neighborhood
- Makes neighborhoods more beautiful
- Is environmentally friendly
- Reduces food budgets
- Provides opportunities for immigrants to grow food that is unavailable locally
- Provides food independence
- Builds self esteem
Finding a Community Garden
If you are interested in participating in a community garden project, there are a number of ways to find one in your area. The websites below will help you to locate one in your neighborhood. It does not make a lot of sense to become a member of a community garden that is far from home, as it will be harder to find the time to tend to your garden.
Your local community is the best place to start. There are a number of institutions who provide space and programs for community gardens. You could start by asking at local schools. Many schools are beginning to dedicate space to gardening, and oftentimes this is open to the public. Aside from public schools, try colleges and universities as well.
Office buildings in major cities often provide space for gardens on their property. This helps to beautify their empty spaces. Parks often dedicate space for gardens as well, and it would be worth contacting the parks and recreation department in your city.
If you are unable to find one, you may consider starting one of your own. There are resources below that can help you with some of the steps of the process. One great way to get started is to talk to your neighbors about interest in such a project. If you are the only one interested, you will not be able to convince your city to allow you to start one. There is power in numbers.
Want to learn more about how to find a local community garden?
Check out these community gardening websites:
American Community Gardening Association
Youth Gardening from the American Horticultural Society
Community Garden Meetup Groups
Start a Community Garden by Let’s Move