Community Gardens

Providing Food And Strengthening Community Ties

In the past, they've solved economic or environmental need-based problems in our country. Today, we utilize community gardens for different, yet equally important reasons. While the Americans who lived through the eras of the Great Depression and the World Wars harvested their own produce as a means to survive, city dwellers in the 1970s revitalized the trend as a response to urban abandonment and an aspiration to forge neighborly relationships. This version of community gardens more closely resembles the gardens that one can find all across American today.

That being said, a community garden can take many forms. On the surface, it's a food source. But, deeper than that, it's a gathering place for people with shared interests and passions. Some gardens have individual and assigned plots, while others are communal, where everyone shares the labor and the fruits that will come from it (quite literally). They can be established for specific purposes, like food pantries or youth education, while others have a more generic purpose: providing food and strengthening community ties.

Participating in or starting your own garden comes with plenty of benefits. You can improve your nutrition, exercise habits, and mental health. You can benefit financially by selling your fruits and vegetables at a Farmer's Market, and some studies show that a community garden can raise property value!

Beginning a community garden takes careful planning and time. First, reach out to community organizations and see if there is wide interest in gardening. Research potential sponsors to help cover the cost of gardening supplies and rent, if needed. When location scouting, try to find a spot that will accomodate the garden longterm. The longer the garden is around, the more time there is to establish a community around it. Make sure the spot has good sun exposure and water access. Finally, start organizing. Will the garden have assigned plots? Will certain roles be assigned to certain garden members? When designing the garden, don't forget to leave space for a compost pile and designated tool area. If you really want to rally around the community aspect of your garden, consider sending out a newsletter to keep all the club members updated. Don't forget-- you can't do it alone! Don't be afraid to draw in help!

For more information, contact:
Bette Fields, Chairman: Community Gardening