What is a community garden?
Community gardens have long been a source of community spirit. From “Victory gardens” planted during wartime to help communities with rationing to modern urban gardens built to reduce crime, gardens have a way of bringing people together.
A community garden is just what it sounds like. It is a patch of land often granted by local government or sometimes a privet patch of land, all set aside for the purpose of building a garden for communal use. Often these gardens are run by local volunteers; sometimes they provide needed jobs for the community. Sometimes these gardens are run by local schools as a way for children to learn about where their food comes from and also provides an opportunity for children to learn about service, and sometimes they are run by churches.
Why have community gardens?
Community gardens are useful in so many ways. School gardens teach children how to grow food and about the value of farming. They learn responsibility as they care for their garden and the gardens foster a sense of pride in accomplishment. The garden can provide food for families that are struggling to provide food for their children outside of school lunches and can bring in revenue for the school through farmers markets.
Community gardens in cities provide many of the same benefits as school gardens. They help bring people together as a community and helps people to feel like there is a reason to care for their neighborhoods. These gardens can provide fresh produce to urban areas that might lack a grocery store or any other place for residence to go to get healthy produce. They can provide food for homeless shelters and disadvantaged families. Food banks that might struggle during the summer seasons because of lack of donations would benefit greatly from even one small garden. One small urban lot dedicated to produce can yield upwards of six hundred servings of vegetables a year with the hundreds of pounds of produce that can be grown in a forty by forty foot space.
Studies done across America have also shown that having gardens in urban areas actually reduces crime (theft in particular) rates by fostering a sense of pride in the neighborhood and giving youth a chance to socialize safely and in a learning environment. The effect of healthy, accessible food in a community can greatly increase living standards when combined with the reduced crime rates and the beauty of the gardens there. They also have been shown to increase property values in their area.
How to start or join a community garden
If you are interested in joining a community garden then the ACGA is a good site that can connect you with established gardens in your area and can also help you start your own garden. Community gardens often need help getting started; they require partitioning and commitment but the rewards are great. Some community gardens struggle to stay open and volunteering for these gardens is a great way to support your community growth.
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