Does Your Area Have a Community Garden Program?

Starting a Community Garden

Community gardens are growing in popularity, offering residents of cities and towns the chance to plant and enjoy their own vegetables.

Whenever you drive through a rural area or a residential area with larger lots, you probably notice that most acreages and homes have vegetable gardens, flower gardens and fruit trees. There’s nothing new about this. Landowners of all kinds have always enjoyed the benefits of growing vegetables and fruit for themselves.

City apartment and town-home dwellers often do not have this opportunity. Many city lots don’t have enough tillable yard for a garden that can supply the vegetable needs of the owners. In some areas, regulations exist regarding what home owners are allowed to plant. You may have read of home owners who have been forced to destroy front yard vegetable gardens because they do not fit the area’s stringent laws.

A community garden is just that: a garden that has several participating gardeners. The land may be community owned, owned by an organization, or even a privately owned site shared with others. Each gardener may have his own individual plot for growing, or the community garden can be one large garden, with participating gardeners sharing the harvest as well as the work. Individual plots are most common, and often consist of raised beds.

The many benefits of a community garden

  • Fresh and nutritious local produce for the participating gardeners and families. If organic methods are used, then the produce is much healthier than any commercially grown vegetables.
  • The participants are able to save money on food. Growing your own vegetables throughout the summer and early fall saves a lot in your grocery bills. It may even be possible to sell excess produce.
  • Gardens create a habitat for native pollinators – did you know that over a third of the food we eat relies on bees?
  • The variety of vegetables available is greater. If another gardener in the group grows different plants, then you can probably make a trade, giving more variety to your diet.
  • People not previously involved in gardening can have a new and rewarding experience. Children as well can be involved, learning not only about growing foods, but also learning about environmental care and responsibility. Gardening is a great family experience.
  • Socialization is another benefit. Group or community gardening brings people together who have the same interests and goals, regardless of age, race, education or economic state. Working toward a common goal is a great way to make new friends.
  • Community gardens are eco-friendly. The growing plants produce oxygen, and help to rid the air of pollutants. Most have a composting area, so waste is reduced, and organic materials are made into fertilizer, building up the soil organically.

Get involved locally

If you’re looking for an activity that people of all ages can enjoy, start a community garden. Rallying support from neighbours, friends or community-led organizations is a great way to start a garden in your back yard — so to speak.

Get involved. Take the initiative if your area does not have a community garden program, and find out how you could start one.

What type of community garden do you want to plant? Depending on the type of garden, you can increase access to fresh, healthy food in rural towns or provide safe green spaces where youth can play in urban cities. If you’re growing food in your garden, find a location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day with easy access to water and proper drainage.

Perhaps the local government has an unused area that would be suitable for gardening. Maybe a local school would like to offer a gardening space where the students could learn about gardening and have their vegetables added to the lunch program. Or perhaps empty lots could be used, with permission from the owners. Once you identify an ideal site, find out who owns the land and contact the owner.

You can find the steps necessary for starting a community garden here:  https://communitygarden.org/resources/10-steps-to-starting-a-community-garden/ This site also has a list of community gardens throughout North America.

Getting involved in setting up a community garden could be great for the environment, a learning and social activity for local people, and  a way for residents to live a healthier lifestyle.

 

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[…] has set up a community garden space. If not, perhaps you can take the initiative to start one. Community gardens offer not just a space for you to grow vegetables, fruits or flowers, but the opportunity to share […]

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