Community gardens bring many benefits to neighborhoods. As a part of our Green Career Pathways class, we visited one this week.
Only a few items were growing, but we got try them: spinach, kale, scallions, and violets too! We met with a community member of the garden who shared that the garden allows her to save money every summer and even to have enough food to share with friends and neighbors.
One inventive participant even made special pretzel snacks, using the fresh ingredients: he wrapped a pretzel stick in spinach and added scallions. It was a big hit with everyone who tried it.
We also helped Farmer Dave build the compost bin he’s been helping to install in the garden we visited.
Gardeners in Community Development has developed a lovely list of benefits of community gardens. We are quoting some highlights from their list below:
- Community gardens bring people together from a wide variety of backgrounds (age, race, culture, social class)
- Community gardens offer a focal point for community organizing, and can lead to community-based efforts to deal with other social concerns.
- Community gardens build block clubs (neighborhood associations).
- Community gardening is recognized by the many police departments as an effective community crime prevention strategy.
- Community gardens allow people from diverse backgrounds to work side-by-side on common goals without speaking the same language.
- Community gardening is a healthy, inexpensive activity for youth that can bring them closer to nature, and allow them to interact with each other in a socially meaningful and physically productive way.
- Community gardens provide access to nutritionally rich foods that may otherwise be unavailable to low-income families and individuals.
- Urban agriculture is 3-5 times more productive per acre than traditional large-scale farming!
- Studies have shown that community gardeners and their children eat healthier diets than do non-gardening families.
- Eating locally produced food reduces asthma rates, because children are able to consume manageable amounts of local pollen and develop immunities.
- Community gardens add beauty to the community and heighten people’s awareness and appreciation for living things.
- Community gardens filter rainwater, helping to keep lakes, rivers, and groundwater clean.