What is a community garden?
A community garden is any piece of land (publicly or privately held) that is cultivated by a group of people rather than a single family or individual. Unlike public parks and other green spaces maintained by local governments, community gardens are generally managed and controlled by a group of unpaid individuals or volunteers – usually the gardeners themselves. There are many variations on the theme of community gardening. For instance, a community garden may:
- Have a closed or open gate policy, making it enclosed and private or open and public
- Be one large shared landscaping plan or individual plots for each gardener
- Develop policies for the use of chemicals (many are run organically)
- Incorporate a mix of food plantings and ornamental plantings
- Be located in urban, suburban, or rural neighborhoods
- Be used for educational purposes with local communities and schools
- Have a greenhouse on site for cultivating seedlings
- House seed storage facilities for preserving heritage varieties of plants
- Incorporate other environmental programs, such as butterfly gardens or methods of providing wildlife habitats
- Be run democratically, by an elected board, a local church, or a land owner
For information about the locations of specific community gardens and events related to community gardening, use the official website of The American Community Garden Association (AGCA.)
What are the benefits of community gardens?
Community gardens are associated with numerous benefits on both a personal and collective level, some of which include:
- Improved mental health: Evidence suggests that gardening and being in natural surroundings can reduce stress, boost moods and improve overall wellbeing.
- Increased food security: Access to fresh, healthy food is a challenge for many members of low-income communities. Community gardens provide an opportunity to grow high-quality produce at a low cost.
- Enhanced community engagement: Community gardens create a space for people to come together and build relationships, fostering a sense of belonging and connection with one’s local environment.
- Environmental benefits: By creating green spaces, community gardens help reduce air pollution, promote biodiversity and increase local wildlife habitat.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
A community garden is a green space shared by members of the local community. The purpose of a community garden is to provide an open space for learning about sustainable growing practices, building relationships, and developing a sense of belonging.
Community gardens are typically not profitable. They are usually supported through volunteer work and donations from the participants of the community garden. However, some community gardens do sell produce or other services to keep the garden financially sustainable.
Community gardens are commonly run by a collective of volunteers. This group is often made up of local residents and members of the community. They are responsible for maintaining the garden, scheduling events, and managing the finances.