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Phone:
651-704-2053
651-704-2081 FAX

Email:
rcmg@umn.edu

Location:
UM Extension Service Ramsey County
2020 White Bear Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55109-3713

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Benefits of Community Gardening


gardeningCommunity Organizing

  • 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.

Crime Prevention

  • 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.

Youth

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.

Food Production

  • 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!
  • Sustainable.
  • Reduction in cost and pollution related to packaging, cooling, transportation and preservation make urban food production highly efficient (sustainable).

Cultural Opportunities

  • 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?

Health

  • 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.

Green Space

  • 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