The following is a description of what a community garden is, and a list of benefits for community gardening. Both are taken from a small book entitled Community Gardening, edited by Ellen Kirby and Elizabeth Peters produced by the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

What is a Community Garden

“A community garden is anywhere a community of people joins together to garden. It is a shared green space that is planted and maintained by some community members for the use and enjoyment of the entire community. A community garden can be a shared garden beside a group of homes (including apartments and residences), a linear street-side garden, or a school garden. A neighbourhood association might form to care for trees on its streets, or to beautify homes in a group project. A social service or community organisation might engage members to practice gardening on its site. A community garden can even be on a roof or indoors. In all instances a community garden is a place to connect with others”

Benefits of Community Gardens

1. Community Gardens Encourage Community Organising

  • Foster community identity and increase a sense of ownership and stewardship.
  • Allow people from diverse backgrounds to work side by side on common goals and share information about neighbourhood groups and community activities.
  • Builds community leadership and offers a focal point for community organising, which can lead to community-based efforts to deal with other social concerns.

2. Community Gardens Improve Health

  • Exposure to green space increases a sense of wellness and belonging.

3. Community Gardens Create Green Space

  • Add beauty to the community and heighten people’s awareness of and appreciation for living things.
  • Restore oxygen to the air and help to reduce air pollution.
  • Provide a place to retreat from the noise and commotion of city and town environments.
  • Gardens increase local property values; studies show that crime decreases in neighbourhoods as the amount of green space increases.

4. Community Gardens Support Youth Development

  • Offer unique opportunities to teach youth about where food comes from, practical math skills, the importance of community building and stewardship, and issues of environmental sustainability, while at the same time developing job and life skills.
  • Encompass a healthy, inexpensive youth activity that can bring them closer to nature and allow them to interact with each other in a socially meaningful and physically productive way.

5. Community Gardens Produce Food

  • Allow families and individuals without land of their own to produce food.
  • Studies have shown that community gardeners and their children eat healthier diets than do non-gardening families.

The above photo was taken in The Strathcona Community Gardens, Vancouver.

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