Fresh flowers. Getting to know your neighbors. Staying active. A source of fresh, healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables. Learning about nature and plantlife. A great activity for children. A way to observe the changing seasons. And all for a low cost. What is it that would offer all of this and more?
The answer is a community garden!
Community gardening is a wonderful way to connect with your neighbors, stay active, grow your own food, and learn about nature. We'll tell you all about the benefits of starting or joining a community garden. But first, a little history of community gardening in the United States.
The History of Community Gardening In the United States
The community garden movement in the USA is often thought to have gotten its start in Detroit in the 1890s. During an economic recession, the city converted vacant lots into community gardens to help with food security. These later turned into school gardens that were maintained by children as a way to promote food security as well as to serve as an educational activity. Later, during World War I, community gardens were promoted as a way to support the war effort and boost food production.
But it was really during the Great Depression of the 1930s that the concept of community gardening gained popularity, when many Americans were struggling to make ends meet. In response to the Great Depression, the federal government established the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which created community gardens as a way to provide food and employment for those in need. During World War II, these gardens gained a more serious purpose as a way to support the war effort by providing sustenance to the local community.
In the 1960s and 1970s, community gardening experienced a resurgence as part of the urban renewal movement. Residents in urban areas began to take over abandoned lots and turn them into community gardens, which provided fresh produce and green space in otherwise concrete-laden neighborhoods.
During the 1980s and 1990s, community gardening became more organized with the establishment of community garden organizations and networks. These organizations provided resources and support for community gardeners and helped to establish community gardens as a valuable part of urban agriculture.
Today, community gardening continues to be a popular way for people to grow their own food, connect with their neighbors, and promote sustainable living. Community gardens can be found in cities, towns, and rural areas around the world, and are an important part of the movement towards local, sustainable food production.
The Benefits of Community Gardening
Are you thinking of starting or joining a community garden?
There are several benefits of community gardens, both for individuals and the community as a whole. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Improved access to fresh and healthy food: Community gardens provide an opportunity for individuals and families to grow their own fruits, vegetables, and herbs, which can be an important source of fresh and healthy food. This can be especially beneficial for people who may not have access to fresh produce in their local area.
- Increased physical activity: Gardening is a physical activity that requires digging, planting, weeding, and harvesting, which can help increase physical activity levels and promote overall health and well-being.
- Improved mental health: Gardening can be a therapeutic and stress-relieving activity that can improve mental health and well-being. Community gardens can also provide a sense of community and belonging, which can help reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
- Enhanced community building: Community gardens can bring people together and promote social connections and community building. They can also help to beautify neighborhoods and promote a sense of pride in the local area.
- Environmental benefits: Community gardens can provide environmental benefits by promoting sustainable gardening practices and reducing the carbon footprint associated with food transportation.
Overall, community gardens can provide a range of benefits for individuals and communities, including improved access to fresh and healthy food, increased physical activity, improved mental health, enhanced community building, and environmental benefits.
Get Started Today
It's May, so it's not too late to get your garden up and running. You can check out the American Community Gardening Association to find resources for starting a new community garden, or a list of community gardens that you might be able to join. There are so many great resources there to avail yourself of. So let's all get our hands dirty in a wonderful community garden this year. See you out there!