The Benefits of a Community Garden

Spring is finally here!  I spent enough time in the Midwest to know that it is time to get out and plant.  If you don’t have a garden there are probably two things you have in mind when you think about having a garden.  One, is there enough space for a garden and two is there enough money to buy the things needed for a garden?

There are a lot of great reasons to have a garden and even more reasons to have a community garden. Consider the following when thinking about planting a community garden on your property.

A community garden can create a lot of positive outcomes for a property, including the following:

  • Access to fresh, healthy food to eat, which improves health and wellbeing
  • A decrease in food costs
  • Socialization: tenants can come together to garden and you may even that a very shy tenant come out of his or her shell when gardening
  • Gardening can give tenants a purpose and a way to be creative
  • Gardens can provide a teaching opportunity about water conservation, and recycling, which is helpful in keeping the earth healthy
  • Beautification of property grounds is another benefit and who knows, it may even bring in new tenants.

More and more properties are considering these benefit and more and more saying yes to creating community gardens.

Over the years, I have seen many HUD community gardens and some were very unique.  If you have the space, a traditional garden is great, but in case you don’t there are a few other possibilities to accommodate the needs of your property.

  • Consider a container garden: The containers don’t have to be expensive, they can be closed crates or large flower pots. Perhaps those uninterested in planting but who are supportive of the project may be willing to donate a container. Any pot will do if it is deep enough for the plant to grow.  Almost any plant will grow in a container and herbs are a nice alternative, as well.
  • Try vertical gardening: Do you have a fence you can use or do you have a maintenance employee who can pull together a trestle? Tomatoes and cucumbers grow great in this type of garden.
  • Raised beds: I have a raised bed garden at my home.  You may need a little more room, but it is a very controlled setting.
  • But the most creative one I ever saw was the edible landscape. Kale, cabbage, other tall types of lettuce and such grow together beautifully and can be an instant lunch.  You would convert part of your landscape into a garden.  It would look good and taste good.

You can be creative.  You can put some of your healthy seniors on a mission to ask friends and family for containers or plants or seeds.  Sometime your local grocer will donate things.  And don’t forget your County Extension Office, many states have them and they often provide free seed, plants and gardening tips. You can’t lose for trying! Check out this website for more information: http://www.pickyourown.org/countyextensionagentoffices.htm

Assisted Housing Management Insider Magazine suggests that you get the tenants to sign a contract and that you may want to partner with a community organization.  The following are some be suggestions on potential partnerships:

  • Food banks;
  • City departments of parks and recreation;
  • Community development organizations;
  • Botanic gardens;
  • Horticulture societies;
  • Churches;
  • Housing authorities’ garden or greening programs;
  • Cooperative Extension Service.

In conclusion, the benefits of a garden outweigh the difficulties. There is no doubt that there may be obstacles, but it is worth giving it a try.  Best of luck and I hope those who have a community garden are seeing the benefits and that others will give it a try too.

In reading about how to create my own garden, I came across this quote I would like to share with you;

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have a great day!

Nickie

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