If you’re like me, you’ve heard a lot about community gardens. The gardens seem to be everywhere, and I’m constantly seeing news stories about them. I heard about them so much, I began to wonder, what is a community garden? I did some research and learned a lot about these unique forms of community involvement.
Let me show you what I found.
What is a Community Garden?
A community garden is a place where a community comes together to grow fresh fruits, vegetables, and sometimes flowers. The garden serves as a place for neighbors to get to know each other and build relationships,
People plan two types of community gardens. The first is a large garden where everyone involved works together to till the land, plant the seeds, and share in the bounty. When asking, what is a community garden, you will also learn about split plot gardens.
This second type of community garden allows Individual gardeners to rent individual garden plots and grow their own food. They don’t share the work or the bounty with anyone.
Both types of community gardens work well and promote community and better habits in food deserts and other areas that are considered economically challenged.
But not all community gardens are in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Some people establish community gardens in more affluent neighborhoods as a way to connect with others.
Who Participates in a Community Garden?
Anyone can participate in a community garden. When asking, what is a community garden, the first thing many people think of is all the people who live in food deserts. Food deserts are places where the closest access to a grocery store is a mile away.
Unfortunately, these areas are typically disadvantaged, and many of the residents don’t have a car to get to the store. Approximately 19 million people live in areas that lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead, the residents in these areas rely on junk food or fast food as their main source of nutrition.
But a community garden changes that. Once people have access to fresh food, they change the way they cook and eat. Instead of just asking, what is a community garden, activists work around the country to do something about this problem and so they turn raw land into gardens.
Other people participate so they can teach their gardening skills to those who want to learn. They act as volunteers and teach others how to grow their own food and become self-sufficient.
Parents also bring their kids to participate in community gardens in the hope that they will learn to eat better and develop an appreciation for natural, healthy food.
What Are the Benefits of a Community Garden?
You would think that planting a little food on a vacant lot isn’t that big of a deal, but the truth is, it’s huge.
Take a look at all of the benefits a community gets after someone asks, what is a community garden, and then goes on to plant one.
You clean up nice
Most food deserts are in urban areas, and because the residents struggle to get by, they don’t have a lot of time or money to make the area look nice. But when someone plants a community garden, the entire block takes on a new look.
The shooting pea sprouts add color to the landscape while the fruit trees provide shade and beauty. Adding such beauty to an impoverished area makes the residents proud to live there.
Did I say I didn’t like broccoli?
When asking, what is a community garden, another benefit you will hear over and over again is that once the residents taste homegrown fresh fruits and vegetables, they will change their diets. For example, when kids grow their own tomatoes, they typically begin to like the taste of them.
And let’s face it: produce grown at home taste much better than produce shipped across the country.
Volunteers who ask, what is a community garden and then build one can open up a whole new food world to the people who typically eat fast food, chips, and soda from the convenience store that’s within walking distance.
Keep that heart pumping
Everyone knows that if you eat an unhealthy diet, your health will suffer. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables can help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. But some people don’t have the opportunity to eat healthy because they don’t have access to quality food.
That’s why when asking, what is a community garden, people will talk to you about the health benefits. When people in an impoverished community learn about healthy eating and how it can change their lives, they often experience a dramatic lifestyle change that results in better health.
And that proved true when researchers set out to analyze the impact community gardens can have on families. They conducted a study with 43 families — a total of 163 household members. At the beginning of the study, only 18.2 percent of the adult participants ate vegetables several times a day. But once they participated in a community garden, the number increased to 84.4 percent of the adults.
And the children did as well. At the beginning of the study, 24 percent of kids ate vegetables several times a day, while 64 percent of them did after spending time in the community garden.
And before the garden, 31.2 percent of the participants worried that they would run out of money and not be able to buy more food before their next paycheck. But after someone asked, what is a community garden and started one, the number was down to just over 3 percent.
The participants of the study also reported physical and mental health benefits that they attributed to working in the garden with their family.
It greens the place up
People who ask, what are community gardens and then go out to start one are typically conservation minded. And that means when they start a community garden, they think about how their actions will affect the earth.
Founders of community gardens often grow their produce organically. That means no pesticides or other harmful chemicals enter the earth’s atmosphere. And some community gardens produce an excess of fruits and vegetables. They either give the extra away or use it as compost to enrich the soil in the garden.
When people grow fresh produce close to home, it reduces the need to travel to buy it. And even if the members of the community use public transportation, it will reduce the impact on the system.
We’re all in this together
When people ask, what is a community garden, one of the first answers they’ll hear is that it helps foster community. And that’s important, especially in areas where neighbors don’t know each other. A strong community bands together in the face of tragedies and other events and a community garden can help build that bond.
When people work together on a project, it creates a bond that forms true friendships and relationships.
Imagine: neighbors who may have never spoken to each other suddenly find themselves tilling a plot of land together. Women whose children go to the same school but don’t know each other pick tomatoes side by side and learn about each other’s lives.
Teach a man to plant a tomato
You’ve undoubtedly heard the old saying, teach a man to fish and he will never go hungry. When asking, what is a community garden, you can apply the same logic. If you teach people how to become self-sufficient and grow their own food, chances are you will change the course of their lives.
Simple Step-by-Step Plan to Start Your Own Community Garden
Now that we’ve answered, what is a community garden, are you thinking about starting one of your own? If so, you’ll need a roadmap to help get you started.
Here is a brief outline of the steps you will need to take.
Get them excited
Your first step when asking what is a community garden and deciding to start one is to talk to your friends, family, and neighbors. The people in your community might be just as excited as you and will volunteer to help get the garden off the ground.
But you won’t know until you ask.
Count the seeds
When planting a community garden, you will need tools, seeds, dirt, and many other things. Ask the committed volunteers to put together a list of everything you have. It will save you money as you start your garden.
Plant your stake
Now it’s time to find the perfect location for your garden. Look for abandoned lots and then approach the city about using it for your garden. You can also approach private landowners and ask if they will allow you to start a garden on their land.
They may ask for a portion of your harvest, but if you plan your garden correctly, there will be plenty of produce to go around!
Set it in motion
Your next step is to plan how you will build your garden. Will you create one large garden where everyone pitches in and shares in the harvest? Or will you divide up the land into plots and rent them out to individuals?
You also need to create work schedules and communication channels for the volunteers.
Show me the money
You will need money to run your community garden, and that’s not something most people realize when asking what is a community garden. But to be successful, you need to run the garden like a business.
You can apply for grants from the city or ask local businesses to sponsor the garden. And if you divide the plots, you can charge each gardener for the use of the plot for the season.
Set the boundaries
To run your garden the right way, you need a set of rules that everyone will follow. For example, if you divide the plots, don’t allow one person to plant tall plants that block the sun from another’s plants. And if you run a large garden where everyone pitches in, set some rules about how much time each person is required to spend maintaining the garden.
Now, all that’s left for you to do is prepare the area for your garden and plant your seeds. Pretty soon, you’ll reap a harvest that you can be proud of.
Answered: What is a Community Garden?
After getting the answer to, what is a community garden, are you motivated to get out there and start one of your own? If so, remember that your friends and neighbors may be just as excited as you are. When you embark on a project that builds bonds, health, and confidence, it’s hard to go wrong!
Have you started a community garden in your area? If so, we would love to hear about it in the comments below!