- Community gardens give block clubs an ongoing focus for community organizing efforts.
- Community gardens bring underrepresented groups into other community organizing efforts.
- Community gardens increase a sense of community ownership and stewardship.
- Community gardens build community leaders.
- Community gardens provide opportunities to meet neighbors.
- Community gardens build block clubs.
- Community gardens increase eyes on the street.
- Community gardeners become more familiar with what is happening in their community.
- Community gardening is recognized by the Minneapolis Police Department as am effective community crime prevention strategy.
Unique opportunities to teach youth about:
- Where does food come from?
- Direct math skills
- Basic business principles
- The importance of community stewardship
- Issues of environmental sustainability
- An example of a youth program is Youth Farm & Market Project, which works with youth in Minneapolis and St Paul to grow and sell food from community gardens.
- Many community gardeners, especially those from immigrant communities, take advantage of food production in community gardens to provide a significant source of food and/or income.
- Community gardeners sell produce to restaurants and at farmers’ markets.
- Urban agriculture is 3-5 times more productive per acre as traditional large-scale farming!
- Reduction in cost and pollution related to packaging, cooling, transportation and preservation make urban food production highly efficient (sustainable).
- Gardening is an important part of every human culture.
- New immigrants tend to be concentrated in low-income urban communities.
- Community gardens offer unique opportunities for new immigrants to:
- Produce traditional crops otherwise unavailable locally.
- Take advantage of the experience of elders to produce a significant amount of food for the household.
- Provide inter-generational exposure to cultural traditions.
- Offer a cultural exchange with other gardeners.
- Learn about block clubs, neighborhood groups and other community information.
- Community gardens offer neighborhoods an access point to non-English speaking communities.
- Community gardens allow people from diverse backgrounds to work side-by-side on common goals without speaking the same language. WHERE ELSE CAN YOU DO THIS?
- Community gardens are beneficial to the specific health concerns affecting lower-income urban communities.
- Enabled gardens and sensory gardens, which incorporate raised beds, wheelchair-safe paths, ergonomically designed tools, etc., give handicapped citizens an equal opportunity to engage their gardening skills with the community at large.
- The benefits of Horticulture Therapy can be and are used to great advantage in community gardens.
- Eating locally produced food reduces asthma rates, because children are able to consume manageable amounts of local pollen and develop immunities.
- Exposure to green space reduces stress, increases sense of wellness and belonging.
- Increasing the consumption of fresh local produce is one of the best ways to address childhood lead poisoning.
- Inner-city public parks are maintained to a lower standard than other municipal green space.
- Lower-income neighborhoods have access to less green space than do other parts of the community.
- Scientific studies show that crime decreases in neighborhoods as the amount of green space increases.
- Community gardens have been shown to actually increase property values in the immediate vicinity where they are located.
What the loss of community gardens means to a community
- Loss of green space
- Loss of block clubs
- Loss of neighborhood organizing opportunities
- Loss of inter-cultural connections
- Loss of health benefits related to gardening
- Loss of opportunity for supplemental food source
- Loss of opportunity for supplemental income source
This document was compiled by the members of the Twin Cities Greening Coalition, a group of greening professionals and interested citizens in the Twin Cities Metro area. Hopefully some of these thoughts will be pertinent to your community gardening efforts.
Community Gardening is 50% Gardening and 100% Political *
* Adam Honigman, Community gardener and community gardening activist