There really are only positive effects of community gardening. It gives a community a gathering space, provides green space in urban areas, educates people -- especially children -- about the way the natural world works, and gives shelter to urban wildlife. It is also a place for people to grow their own food, and it provides a social network for reaching out to neighbors.
Community gardens originated in the first part of the 20th century as a way for immigrants who came from rural farmlands to urban spaces to continue to grow their own vegetables and keep a cohesive community. This was especially important as urban spaces rapidly grew. Victory gardens, which were popular during World War II, were considered community gardens. During the 1960s, eco-consciousness made community gardening a popular idea again in response to urban decline and decay. This is happening again in many parts of the country.
Community Garden Start-Up
1. Form a Planning Committee
-Find people who want to do it.
-Decide what kind of garden you will grow, and who the garden will serve (youths, adults, or both).
-Approach a sponsor or umbrella organization.
2. Choose a Site
-Make sure the site gets at least six hours of sunlight a day if you are growing vegetables.
-Do a soil test.
-Look into the availability of water.
-Try to get a lease for at least three years.
3. Prepare and Develop the Site
-Develop a design.
-Organize volunteer work crews.
-Determine plot sizes.
-Decide if the garden will be organic.
-Include plans for a storage and compost area.
4. Organize the Garden
-Determine the conditions for membership.
-Decide how the plots be assigned, if the gardeners will share tools, and if there will be a children's plot.
-Decide how the next gardener will be chosen when someone leaves a plot.
For more information about the American Community Gardening Association, please visitcommunitygarden.org. For more information on the Environment of New York City, visit cenyc.org.
Special thanks to Tony Bielaczyc, the garden editor of Martha Stewart Living, for sharing this helpful information about community gardens. Special thanks to Janus et Cie for donating the furniture used in the Garden for Living at Mount Sinai, our company-sponsored community garden in New York.