May 30, 2019
The Value of Community Gardens
An unexpected, rewarding experience for all
Photo courtesy of NeONBRAND/Unsplash
By Katie Civgin
contributor to The Natural
I am the daughter of an expert gardener. In addition to being the most passionate gardener that I know, my mom also happens to be the most talented. And growing up, she enlisted my help on a number of her planting projects. Whether we were growing a rose garden outside my bedroom window or planning a summer vegetable garden, I spent a lot of time helping out in the backyard as a kid. Of all the plantings that I worked on, my favorite (and the most rewarding) was our plot at the local community garden.
Community gardens are single pieces of land that are planned, maintained and sustained by a group of neighbors. Such gardens can be grown collectively or divided into individual plots. They give people the opportunity to come together and produce their own fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables. While the success of a community garden relies on planning and coordination, working on one is guaranteed to be a rewarding experience for both participants and their communities. Here are the reasons why I believe community gardens have many benefits.
Community gardens bring people together. Because growing a community garden is a group effort, there are a lot of opportunities to connect with others while working towards a successful garden. Neighbors organize, build, and manage the garden together. As a result, people who might not normally know each other become teammates in building and maintaining something successful.
Improved Physical and Mental Health
When someone joins a community garden, they commit to helping their neighbors tend to it. And because gardening involves more physical exercise than you might imagine, participants tend to be more active than usual (think: planting, watering, weeding and harvesting). In addition to helping overall physical health, working at community gardens is also said to help encourage positive mental health habits. Using leisure time in a productive manner can be rewarding and fulfilling and spending time in nature often evokes positive emotions. Over time, participants have the opportunity to see their hard work result in a plentiful garden and this can create a real sense of accomplishment.
Increased Access to Fresh Foods
People who grow their own fresh produce at community gardens tend to eat more vegetables and fruit than those who do not, simply because of access. And in addition to providing participants with increased access to affordable fresh produce, community garden teams often donate food to local food pantries. By providing access to fresh food to those that might not otherwise have it, community gardens can play a big role in decreasing food insecurity.
Articles from The Natural should not be considered medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please consult a medical professional.