Community Garden: Overview
Community gardens have come full circle through the years. Many old town squares were often places of communal activities, including gardening and food preparation. Over time, technology allowed activities to turn indoors that were formerly carried on out-of-doors. Community gardens are a return to a communal activity carried on within a neighborhood, but one that is uniquely adapted to its contemporary environment. Most community gardens occur on a smaller scale, as opposed to something larger like community supported agriculture programs. They typically include the cultivation of vegetables and flowers, but can also showcase related activities such as bee-keeping, composting, rainwater collection and soil conservation practices. For both the gardeners and others in community, the garden provides access to fresh produce, education of agricultural and natural processes, connection to an active recreational space, and creation of a community amenity. The rewards are as much social as they are edible.
Community gardens provide a creative, outside-the-box solution to address several pressing issues:
- Public Health: Increasing incidents of obesity among adults and children have led to tremendous burdens on public health, including costs of healthcare. In some areas, this can be attributed in part to limited access to healthy food choices, and community gardens located in underserved neighborhoods can remedy this trend.
- Economically Viable Open Space: Community gardens typically are run as non-profit organizations supported by their members or operated by a group of interested individuals who invest in garden plots. Many welcome visitors into their garden at low or no charge. Sales of plants and produce from the garden can generate revenues that help the garden to be self-sustaining.
- Educational Opportunities: People are increasingly removed from agricultural and natural processes. Community gardens provide awareness of the environment and the science of cultivation, particularly for young people who may be removed from the generations where home gardening was a way-of-life. The most visible educational programs are farm-to-school programs in many communities, where vegetables grown on school grounds supplement meals served in the cafeteria.
- Social and Recreational Value: Gardening is an active lifestyle that can be embraced by individual of all ages. Some of the most successful community gardens feature partnerships with schools, youth organizations or senior citizens programs.
BENEFITS & IMPACTS
Community Gardens offer a wide range of benefits including:
- Reduced fuel consumption and carbon emissions by promoting the consumption of locally produced foods. For example, in the United States, a meal travels an average of about 13,000 miles before reaching your plate
- Beautified communities (particularly if abandoned lots are used) by transforming unattractive pieces of land into compelling spaces
- Less and cleaner stormwater runoff, and decreased surface erosion
- Cleaner air by the absorption of greenhouse gases and air pollutants
- Critical corridors for preserving local wildlife and supporting migratory species
- Improved quality of life by creating opportunities for recreation, social interaction, exercise, and education
- Economic development through local food markets
- Improved food access among lower-income and/or under-served communities which often lack supermarkets, and thus, rely heavily on convenience stores or fast-food chains as their primary food source;
- Reduced crime and vandalism
There is minimal risk involved with implementing a community garden program. However, investments may be lost if community support dwindles. Conflicts may arise where incompatible crops are unknowingly grown next to each other.
Parks & Recreation Department, Planning & Development Department, Public Works Department, community & civic leaders, non-profit leaders, local growers, neighborhood associations.
The development of a successful community garden is a long-term effort that requires patience and commitment. As with any organization, community gardens require the dedication of both professionals and volunteers to ensure their success. Though some are sustained completely by volunteers, there is often a need for at least one professional member to organize things like materials, supplies, finances and programs. There are professionals who offer services to a group of interested individuals to help with site selection, organization, and establishment of the garden, and some community gardens function as public-private partnerships with their local governments. Partnership opportunities with other organizations can enhance the operations, productivity and community benefit of the garden, particularly when they involve groups such as school children, senior citizens or master gardeners organizations.
COSTS & FUNDING
Costs of implementing a Community Garden will vary depending on size and design. General costs include, but are not limited to:
- Site lease, development and design
- Supplies, tools, fencing, equipment
- Public education, training
Consider funding sources such as local businesses, private donors.
A mixture of decayed plants and other organic material that is used to enrich soil with nutrients.Greenhouse gases are a part of the Earth's atmosphere and are both naturally occurring and the result of human chemical processes. The most common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluourocarbons. These gases trap heat and thus contribute to the warming of the planet. See also CFCS and GREENHOUSE EFFECT.