There have been countless times that I have heard someone say that they would love to grow a vegetable garden, but do not have the space. Many of these people live in urban areas in apartments, townhouses, or condominiums. This is when community gardening becomes a great resource. People that are interested in growing their own fresh herbs and vegetables, but lack the space to do it, now have an avenue – it is called community gardening.
What Is Community Gardening?
Community gardening is a very simple idea. It is a dedicated plot that is especially set up for gardeners to grow the vegetables they love collectively. The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) defines community gardening as simply:
Any piece of land gardened by a group of people.
The Benefits Of Community Gardening
The ACGA also list many benefits of community gardening:
- Improves the quality of life for people in the garden
- Provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
- Stimulates Social Interaction
- Encourages Self-Reliance
- Beautifies Neighborhoods
- Produces Nutritious Food
- Reduces Family Food Budgets
- Conserves Resources
- Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
- Reduces Crime
- Preserves Green Space
- Creates income opportunities and economic development
- Reduces city heat from streets and parking lots
- Provides opportunities for inter-generational and cross-cultural connections
Participating in a community garden can be a very valuable experience. If you are starting a garden for the first time, you will have experienced gardeners right there with you that you can seek advise from. Most gardeners are more than happy to answer questions, and give a helping hand to a new gardener. I have not met a gardener yet that was not willing to help me when I asked.
Another wonderful thing about participating in a community garden is the relationships you build with fellow gardeners. Some of these end up being life-long friendships.
How To Get Started With A Community Garden
The first thing you should do if you are interested in participating in a community garden is to find one near you. You can do this by searching ACGA’s database of community gardens. You can do this by visiting their Bi-National Community Garden Database.
If you can not find a community garden near you, try searching your local paper. Community garden spaces are sometimes listed in the classifieds each spring and fall. You can drive around your area in search of empty and unused plots that could be used as a gardening space. Find the owners of the plot and ask them if you may grow some vegetables in the plot. Offer to give them some “rent” of the space and free vegetables. This may not go over very well with most land owners, but it never hurts to ask.
Also if you have some friends or relatives that have a garden, ask them if they mind sharing some space in their gardens for a few of your favorite vegetables that you would like to grow. Most probably would not mind sharing, and might even welcome your company in the garden. Become creative in your ways of locating a garden space. If you are interested enough in growing your own vegetables, you can find a way to meet your needs.
You no longer have an excuse to start growing your own vegetables today! Give community gardening a try, you will enjoy it!
For more information about community gardening, and the American Community Gardening Association, please visit their website at www.communitygarden.org.