Community gardening

Community gardening

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Strathcona Heights Community Garden in Ottawa, Canada.

A community garden is a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people.[1]



[edit] Purpose

Community gardens provide access to fresh produce and plants as well as access to satisfying labor, neighborhood improvement, sense of community and connection to the environment.[2] They are publicly functioning in terms of ownership, access, and management,[3] as well as typically owned in trust by local governments or nonprofits.

A city’s community gardens can be as diverse as its communities of gardeners. Some choose to solely grow flowers, others are nurtured communally and their bounty shared, some have individual plots for personal use, while others are equipped with raised beds for disabled gardeners.[4]

Climate change and peak oil are threatening food security. Climate change is expected to cause a global decline in agricultural output, making fresh produce increasingly unaffordable. [5] Community gardens encourage an urban community's food security, allowing citizens to grow their own food or for others to donate what they have grown.[6] Peak oil is particularly relevant where food production relies heavily on fossil fuels. [7] Community garden advocates point out that locally grown food decreases a community's reliance on fossil fuels for transport of food from large agricultural areas. It also decreases the level of fossil fuels used in agricultural machinery, since more of the work is done manually.[8]

Community gardens improve users’ health through increased fresh vegetable consumption and providing an outlet for exercise. [9] The gardens also combat two forms of alienation that plague modern urban life, by bringing urban gardeners closer in touch with the source of their food, and by breaking down isolation by creating a social community. Community gardens provide other social benefits, such as the sharing of food production knowledge with the wider community and safer living spaces. [10] It has been found that active communities experience less crime and vandalism.[11]

Community gardens involve a change in food systems in order to change food production.

[edit] Definition

Unlike public parks, whether community gardens are open to the general public is dependent upon the lease agreements with the management body of the park and the community garden membership. Open or closed gate policies vary from garden to garden. There is no 'off the shelf model' of a community garden, however; they provide a green space in urban areas, along with opportunities for social gatherings, beautification, education and recreation. However, in a key difference, community gardens are managed and maintained with the active participation of the gardeners themselves, rather than tended only by a professional staff. A second difference is food production: Unlike parks, where plantings are ornamental (or more recently ecological), community gardens often encourage food production by providing gardeners a place to grow vegetables and other crops. To facilitate this, a community garden may be divided into individual plots or tended in a communal fashion, depending on the size and quality of a garden and the members involved.[12]

As discussed below, "community garden" is the term favored in the United States and Canada, with a strong presence in Australia and New Zealand as well. One source and clearinghouse on community gardening information in North America is The American Community Gardening Association[13], a non-profit membership organization. Research is forming as to whether or not Community Gardening dictates a connotation with social change in the U.S. and how changing this term may benefit the effort to involve entire communities.

Community gardens vary widely throughout the world. In North America, community gardens range from familiar "victory garden" areas where people grow small plots of vegetables, to large "greening" projects to preserve natural areas, to tiny street beautification planters on urban street corners. In the UK and the rest of Europe, closely related "allotment gardens" can have dozens of plots, each measuring hundreds of square meters and rented by the same family for generations. In the developing world, commonly held land for small gardens is a familiar part of the landscape, even in urban areas, where they may function as mini-truck farms.[citation needed]

For all their diversity, however, most community gardens share at least four elements in common:[citation needed]

In many ways community gardens are re-enforcing basic human instincts that are slowly deteriorating due to the convenience of modern life (

  • land (or a place to grow something)
  • plantings
  • gardeners
  • some sort of organizing arrangements

Land for a community garden can be publicly or privately held. One strong tradition in American community gardening in urban areas is cleaning up abandoned vacant lots and turning them into productive gardens. Alternatively, community gardens can be seen as a health or recreational amenity and included in public parks, similar to ball fields or playgrounds. Historically, community gardens have also served to provide food during wartime or periods of economic depression. Access to land and security of land tenure remains a major challenge for community gardeners and their supporters throughout the world, since in most cases the gardeners themselves do not own or control the land directly.[14]

Some gardens are grown collectively, with everyone working together; others are split into clearly divided plots, each managed by a different gardener (or group or family). Many community gardens have both "common areas" with shared upkeep and individual/family plots.[citation needed]

Two national surveys sponsored by the American Community Gardening Association in the late 1980s and mid-1990s, and other research, strongly support the observation that there is no "standard" community garden plot size, at least in the United States and Canada. Individual plot sizes vary widely depending on many factors, including location, land available for gardening, demand, physical and time limitations of the gardeners, among others. As a general rule, North American community garden plots tend to be smaller than European allotments. 6m × 6m (20 ft × 20 ft) is one common plot size (larger gardens in parks); 3m × 3m (10 ft × 10 ft) or 3m × 4.5 m (10 ft × 15 ft) is another (inner city gardens on small lots).[citation needed]

While food production is central to many community and allotment gardens, not all have vegetables as a main focus. Restoration of natural areas and native plant gardens are also popular, as are "art" gardens. Many gardens have several different planting elements, and combine plots with such projects as small orchards, herbs and butterfly gardens. Individual plots can become "virtual" backyards, each highly diverse, creating a "quilt" of flowers, vegetables and folk art.[citation needed]

Gardeners may form a grassroots group to initiate the garden, such as the Green Guerrillas of New York City [15] , or a garden may be organized "top down" by a municipal agency. The Los Gatos, California-based non-profit Community Gardens as Appleseeds [16] offers free assistance in starting up new community gardens around the world. The community gardening movement in North American prides itself on being inclusive, diverse, pro-democracy, and supportive of community involvement. Gardeners may be of any cultural background, young or old, new gardeners or seasoned growers, rich or poor. A garden may have only a few people active, or hundreds.[citation needed]

Finally, all community gardens have a structure. The organization depends in part on whether the garden is "top down" or "grassroots". There are many different organizational models in use for community gardens. Some elect boards in a democratic fashion, while others can be run by appointed officials. Some are managed by non-profit organizations, such as a community gardening association, a community association, a church, or other land-owner; others by a city's recreation or parks department, a school or University. In most cases, gardeners are expected to pay annual dues to help with garden upkeep, and the organization must manage these fees. The tasks in a community garden are endless - keeping up the area's appearance, mulching paths, recruiting new members, reminding members to tend plots when they get weedy, fund raising, the list goes on... Sensible rules and an 'operations manual' are both invaluable tools, and ideas for both are available at the ACGA[17]

[edit] Arguments

A list of people argue against the value of community gardens. Some suggest that it re-enforces racism, supporting only a select group of privileged peoples in privileged areas.[18] Caitlin Flanagan opposes gardens as they do not teach children what she believes are the fundamentals of education, and are essentially a trend for the privileged.[19]

In Australia, community gardens have met resistance from local governments and planners. In various instances community gardens have not been recognised as a community service, are seen as an undesirable use of available land, are considered inconsistent with local government aesthetics or are absent from local planning policy. [20]

[edit] Overlap Between Gardens and Art

Through exploration of community gardens, the overlap between gardens and art become evident. What Nicolas Bourriaud calls "relational art," community gardens serve as "a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space."[21]

Community gardening could also be seen as a form of participatory practice.[22]

[edit] Examples

[edit] Australia

Ringwood Community Garden in Melbourne, Australia.

Australian Community Gardeners Forum - Discussion Forum for Community Gardeners in all areas of Australia.

Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network - national association of city farms, community gardens and sustainability education centres:

[edit] Austria

[edit] Canada

British Columbia
  • BC Food Systems Network, Sorrento
  • Community Gardens in Greater Vancouver and Victoria, Vancouver
  • LifeCycles Project Society, Victoria
Northwest Territories
  • Inuvik Community Greenhouse, Inuvik (north of the Arctic Circle!)
  • Saskferco Community Gardens, Moose Jaw
  • Saskferco - Grow Regina Community Garden, Regina
  • CHEP - Child Hunger and Education Program, Saskatoon

[edit] New Zealand

There are numerous community gardens in New Zealand[23] including:

  • Grey Lynn Community Gardens, Auckland
  • Kingsland Community Gardens, Auckland
  • Ranui Community Gardens, West Auckland
  • Marfell Combined Culture Centre Community Gardens, New Plymouth
  • Te Mana Park Community Gardens, Wanganui
  • Common Ground Community Gardens, Wellington
  • Kai o te Aro, Aro Valley, Wellington
  • Takaka Community Gardens, Takaka, South Island
  • New Brighton Community Gardens[24], Christchurch
  • Waterview Community Gardens[25], Auckland

[edit] Spain

The squatted social center Can Masdeu is home to one of the largest community gardens in Barcelona.

Most older Spaniards grew up in the countryside and moved to the city to find work. Strong family ties often keep them from retiring to the countryside, and so urban community gardens are in great demand. Potlucks and paellas are common, as well as regular meetings to manage the affairs of the garden.[26]

[edit] United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, community gardening is generally distinct from allotment gardening, though the distinction is sometimes blurred. Allotments are generally plots of land rented to individuals for their cultivation by local authorities or other public bodies—the upkeep of the land is usually the responsibility of the individual plot owners. Allotments tend (but not invariably) to be situated around the outskirts of built-up areas. Use of allotment areas as open space or play areas is generally discouraged. However, there are an increasing number of community-managed allotments, which may include allotment plots and a community garden area.[citation needed]

The community garden movement is of more recent provenance than allotment gardening, with many such gardens built on patches of derelict land, waste ground or land owned by the local authority or a private landlord that is not being used for any purpose. A community garden in the United Kingdom tends to be situated in a built-up area and is typically run by people from the local community as an independent, non-profit organisation (though this may be wholly or partly funded by public money).[citation needed]

It is also likely to perform a dual function as an open space or play area (in which role it may also be known as a 'city park') and—while it may offer plots to individual cultivators—the organisation that administers the garden will normally have a great deal of the responsibility for its planting, landscaping and upkeep. An example inner-city garden of this sort is Islington's Culpeper Community Garden, or Camden's Phoenix Garden.[citation needed]

Some of the larger community gardens act as a hub for the community, offering not just a pleasant green space, but also facilities for education and training. There are estimated to be more than 1,000 community-managed gardens in the UK.[citation needed]

The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (a registered charity) is a membership organisation that supports, promotes and represents community-run gardens in the UK.[citation needed]

[edit] United States

In United States, as well as Canada, "community gardening" encompasses a wide variety of approaches. Some influential community gardens, such as the Clinton Street garden in the middle of Manhattan in New York City, and the Peralta garden in Berkeley, California, inspired by architect and community garden visionary Karl Linn, are gathering places for neighbors and showcases for art and ecological awareness, with food production cherished but seen as one part of a much larger vision. Other gardens resemble European "allotment" gardens, with plots where individuals and families can grow vegetables and flowers, including a number (for instance, in Minneapolis and Ann Arbor, Michigan) which began as "Victory Gardens" during World War II. Even such "food" gardens are very different, however — for instance, plot sizes range widely from as small as 1.5m × 1.5m (5 ft × 5 ft) in some inner city gardens and art gardens, such as the Dovetail Garden in Charlotte, North Carolina, to relatively large plots of 15m × 15m (50 ft × 50 ft) such as those at Hilton Head, South Carolina.[citation needed]

Some community gardens, in contrast, are devoted entirely to creating ecological green space or habitat, still others to growing flowers, and others to education or providing access to gardening to those who otherwise could not have a garden, such as the elderly, recent immigrants or the homeless — for example, the Community Garden for the Homeless, also in Charlotte, not far away from the very different Dovetail Garden. Some gardens are worked as community farms with no individual plots at all, shading into becoming urban farms.[citation needed]

That said, a majority of gardens in a majority of community gardening programs are collections of individual garden plots, frequently between 3m × 3m (10'×10') and 6m × 6m (20'×20'). This holds true whether they are sponsored by public agencies, city departments (Seattle, Washington — perhaps the model community gardening program in the US), large non-profits, or (most commonly) a coalition of different entities and groups, Whether the garden is run as a co-op by the gardeners themselves (still common in New York, Boston and other East Coast cities) or managed by a public or non-profit agency, plot holders typically are asked to pay a modest fee each year and to abide by a set of rules. Many gardens encourage activities such as work days, fundraisers, and social gatherings. Community garden organizers typically say that "growing community" is as important as growing vegetables, or, as the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) puts it: "In community gardening, 'community' comes first."[citation needed] In New Orleans, too, community gardens have been an effective approach to cleaning up and maintaining abandoned, vacant lots.

Equally important, according to ACGA, is encouraging political involvement. As storied New York community gardener Adam Honigman puts it: "Community gardening is 50% gardening and 100% local political organizing."[citation needed] Community gardens are more than a meeting ground — they are also a training ground for political empowerment. In a sense, as Karl Linn pointed out, they are the 21st Century version of the New England village green, common space that brings people together and inspires shared action.[citation needed]

ACGA, a non-profit coalition founded in 1979, is the primary advocacy group for community gardening in the US and Canada. After many years of being hosted by the community garden support program Philadelphia Green in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ACGA is now based at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio.[citation needed]

Although community gardening exists across northern North America, it remains strongest in the Northeast, where literally thousands of community gardens grow in New York City, Philadelphia and Boston. It is also strong along the West Coast, especially in British Columbia, and in Midwestern centers such as Chicago and Minneapolis.[citation needed]

The European history of community gardening in the US dates back to the early 1700s, when Moravians created a community garden as part of the community of Bethabara, near modern Winston-Salem, North Carolina - a garden still active and open for visitors today! First Nations peoples also gardened with a community approach (Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden paints a picture of gardens among the Hidatsa), likely for generations before the arrival of waves of immigrants.[citation needed]

Academic study of American community gardening by T.J. Bassett and more recently Laura Lawson ("City Bountiful") suggests that the community gardening "movement" is best described as a series of distinct phases each with contrasting ideologies and purposes, even though all resulted in people creating gardens on public or abandoned land. The latest phase began with the alternative politics and culture and dawning ecological activism of the late 1960s.[citation needed]

From the mid-1970s through the early 1990s, community gardening in a select number of major American cities enjoyed Federal financial support, though many programs struggled to find funding. The loss of the Federal program increased the challenge of finding funding to support programs. Funding remains a key challenge, along with secure land tenure for garden sites, finding insurance, and helping gardeners develop ways to work together smoothly.[citation needed]

Community gardening in the United States overlaps to some extent with the related but distinct movement to encourage local food production, local farmers' markets and community supported agriculture farms (CSAs). Leases and rules prevent some, though not all, community gardeners from selling their produce commercially, although their gardens may donate fresh fruits and vegetables to local food pantries, cooperatives, and homeless members of their community. However, community gardens offer ideal sites for local farmers markets, and gardeners often seek farmers to provide space-intensive crops such as corn or potatoes. They also can hire farmers to provide services such as plowing and providing mulch and manure. In turn, small farmers can reach a wider audience and consumer base by drawing on community gardeners and their contacts. Although the two approaches are distinct, both can be effective ways to produce local food in urban areas, safeguard green space, and contribute to food security.[citation needed]

In an interesting variant on the practice of reclaiming bombed-out areas for community gardens (also practiced during WWII in the ghettos of Eastern Europe), in American inner-cities, community groups have reclaimed abandoned or junked lots for garden plots. In these cases, groups have subsequently leased from a municipality that claims the property or claimed squatter's rights or a right to subsistence not currently recognized by the legal system. Two notable cases include the gardens of Manhattan's lower Eastside and the South Central Farm of Los Angeles, California. A lasting legacy of the New York gardens is 'guerrilla gardening', perfected by NYC's legendary "Green Guerrillas", founded by Liz Christy. In contrast, The South Central Farm was recently bulldozed in Los Angeles.[citation needed]

ACGA provides resources to assist anyone wishing to start a community garden or find a garden near their home, as well as training classes in community gardening organizing and management. They also offer a website, a newsletter, an email listserv and a magazine. ACGA's most recent survey suggests that the total number of community gardens around the US alone is over 5000.[citation needed]

Boston, Massachusetts

In the city of Boston, Massachusetts there are a variety of local and non-profit organizations which own, promote and manage approximately 180 community gardens throughout the city. These organizations include the Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN), Boston Nature Center of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Boston Parks and Recreation Department, Boston Urban Gardeners (BUG), MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, Dorchester Gardenlands Preserve, ReVision House, and the South End Lower Roxbury Open Space Land Trust.[citation needed]

In 2002, the volunteer-run Boston Community Garden Council was formed as a means of facilitating communication and cooperation between these organizations along with individual gardeners in Boston.[citation needed]

Denver, Colorado

There are over 100 community gardens in the Denver metro area. Most are managed by Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), a non-profit organization that assists community members with the design, planning, and construction of neighborhood community gardens.[27][28] The majority of DUG's community gardens are located in low-to-moderate income areas[29], and more than 20 are located at Denver public schools.[30] DUG also partners with government and other non-profit agencies to offer gardening and nutrition education.

San Francisco, California

In San Francisco, community gardens are available through various public and private entities. Most community gardens in San Francisco are available through its Recreation and Park Department, which manages over 35 community gardens on City property. These are allotment gardens whereby individuals or groups volunteer to be assigned garden plots. Garden members within their respective gardens democratically organize themselves to set bylaws that are consistent with City policy. These gardeners often self-impose garden dues as a membership requirement to cover common expenses. To standardize the development and management of its community gardens, the Recreation and Park Commission adopted its Community Garden Policy in 2006.[citation needed]

Though not plot-based, the City's Department of Public Works supports communal-style gardening on City property whereby community groups participate in the development and maintenance of public gardens. No one person is responsible for any portion of the site. One group, a community-based and resident-led volunteer group in an underserved neighborhood called Bayview Hunters Point, has created an enclosed food-producing garden on City-owned land, as well as developed many residential urban farms around privately owned homes. This group, the Quesada Gardens Initiative, is one of many organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area working at the nexus of environmental justice, health and wellness and food security, and community-building.[citation needed]

All of the community gardens of San Francisco are listed on the San Francisco Garden Resource Organization [31] web site with detailed directions and garden pictures of some of the gardens.[citation needed]

Seattle, Washington

The Seattle P-Patch program for community garden plots began in the early 70s during an economic downturn known locally as the "Boeing Bust" which had resulted in many people without work or money. Darlyn Rundberg Del Boca, a University of Washington student, saw an opportunity to promote children's gardening with a focus on growing for the local Neighbors in Need food bank program, and with the help of a Seattle Councilmember obtained permission to use part of the Picardo family's truck garden in northeast Seattle with the City of Seattle renting the land for the cost of its real estate taxes. The first garden consisted of a large central garden plot planted by children from the nearby elementary school and their parents; families who volunteered to help were offered smaller individual plots around the perimeter of the central plot. The City subsequently purchased the Picardo farm, and the program of renting individual garden plots arising from the first efforts was named 'P-Patch' in honor of the Picardo family's contribution. The P-Patch program continued to grow and currently consists of 1900 plots in 68 locations with a total of 23 acres of land, with additions planned each year, and the tradition of growing for local food banks resulted in 12.3 tons of food donated in 2008.

Salt Lake City, Utah

In Salt Lake City, community gardens are available through the non-profit organization Wasatch Community Gardens. On May 16, 2009[32] Wasatch Community Gardens, in collaborated with The Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RAD), launched the first People's Portable Garden in Salt Lake City. The garden is designed to stimulate growth and revitalize different areas of the city. Salt Lake City put $48,000 into the People’s Portable Garden on 900 South.[33] The People's Portable Garden is located at 900 S 200 W, Salt Lake City[34]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ American Community Garden Association (2007). What is a community garden? Retrieved on 2007-11-01 from
  2. ^ Hannah, A.K.; & Oh, P. (2000). Rethinking Urban Poverty: A look at Community Gardens. Bulletin of Science, Technology and & Society. 20(3). 207-216.
  3. ^ Ferris, J.; Norman, C.; & Sempik, J. (2001). People, Land and Sustainability: Community Gardens and the Social Dimension of Sustainable Development. Social Policy and Administration. 35(5). 559-568.
  4. ^ Urban preservation: How greening small spaces can strengthen community roots in Ottawa, Canada.
  5. ^ Harris, E (2009). "The role of community gardens in creating healthy communities", Australian Planner, v. 46, no. 2 (June 2009) p. 24-27.
  6. ^ Nelson, Toni (1996). "Closing the nutrient loop: Using urban agriculture to increase food supply and reduce waste", World Watch v. 9 (Nov./Dec. 1996) p. 10-17.
  7. ^ Harris, E (2009). "The role of community gardens in creating healthy communities", Australian Planner, v. 46, no. 2 (June 2009) p. 24-27.
  8. ^ [1]: Kishler, Les. Opinion: community gardens are a serious answer to food supplies, health (2010, March 18) San Jose Mercury News .
  9. ^ Harris, E (2009). "The role of community gardens in creating healthy communities", Australian Planner, v. 46, no. 2 (June 2009) p. 24-27.
  10. ^ Harris, E (2009). "The role of community gardens in creating healthy communities", Australian Planner, v. 46, no. 2 (June 2009) p. 24-27.
  11. ^ Melville Court, Chatham, Kent," Moiser, Steve, Landscape Design, no306 (Dec. 2001/Jan. 2002) p. 34.
  12. ^ Selected factors influencing the success of a community garden, by Gordon Arthur Clark. Kansas State University, 1980.
  13. ^ American Community Gardening Association
  14. ^ Visionaries and planners : the garden city movement and the modern community, Stanley Buder. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. ISBN 0195061748
  15. ^ Green Guerillas
  16. ^ Community Gardens as Appleseeds
  17. ^ American Community Gardening Association
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ [3]
  20. ^ Harris, E (2009). "The role of community gardens in creating healthy communities", Australian Planner, v. 46, no. 2 (June 2009) p. 24-27.
  21. ^ Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics p.113
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ New Brighton Community Gardens
  25. ^ Waterview Community Garden
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ SFGRO Home Page
  32. ^ Salt Lake City Government announces Portable People's Garden
  33. ^
  34. ^ Wasatch Community Gardens "New People's Portable Gardens"

[edit] External links

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