The urban garden has become a vibrant feature of many inner-city areas. Gardening encourages residents to grow their own food, lowering their cost of living and providing an enriching activity for families to take part in together.
Marc Zboch, a philanthropist and business expert, explores five ways in which urban gardens benefit communities.
1. Health Benefits
People whose families take part in community gardens eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. The areas in which urban gardens are typically located are known as “food deserts” where there are no supermarkets, farmers’ markets, or other places to buy reasonably priced and healthy food. Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to a family’s diet improves their overall health and reduces the chance that they will suffer from serious problems like cancer and heart disease in the future.
2. Environmental Advantages
Community gardens promote sustainable agriculture. These gardens create habitats and improve the ecology of the area. Community gardens improve soil and air quality. They increase the biodiversity of plants and animals. They reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to transport food into an area. They can also help to reduce household waste by encouraging composting.
The urban community garden also helps to reduce pollution caused by runoff. It can capture excess heat and make the local microclimate less extreme.
3. Economic Benefits
Community gardens carry many economic benefits for residents. Many residents of disadvantaged urban areas find that fresh produce is too expensive to buy on a regular basis. This problem is exacerbated when gentrifying neighborhoods add stores like Whole Foods and the community cannot afford to shop there. They reduce the cost of healthy food and make it more accessible to urban families. Gardens in urban areas help to reduce the problem of decreased property values caused by blighted lots.
Gardening can also have a direct economic benefit for the community. Produce from these gardens can be sold at farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets are another source of employment for urban residents, and the job training they receive there could affect their economic standing.
4. Social Benefits
Working in a garden together is a positive social activity that brings friends and families together. It is possible to meet like-minded people and make friends at the community garden. Since there is so much isolation in today’s society, the social benefits of community gardens should not be overlooked.
The urban garden builds positive social ties. People are also more likely to become involved in their community. This means that the crime rate could be reduced. Residents of these areas also feel safer in their neighborhoods.
Vacant lands in a community are correlated with drug use and illegal dumping. Urban gardens promote healthy living and protect the land from misuse.
5. Educational Benefits
There are many educational benefits of urban gardening. Children who are involved in urban gardening at a young age are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables as they grow up. This can help to reduce the risk of chronic health conditions like obesity and diabetes. Children can learn important environmental and social lessons from the urban garden.
How to Start an Urban Garden in Your Neighborhood
Learning about the benefits of urban gardens often leads local residents to learn about how they can start their own community garden. The first thing that would-be urban gardeners should do is to establish a planning committee. They should identify the land they want to use, going to the city to find out whether the land can be leased by their committee. The city may already have plots chosen that would make ideal urban gardens. Starting with a small- to medium-sized garden is best at the beginning of your project.
You will need to assign plots to the families who want to participate. Participants will need to be given a set of rules that govern how often they need to care for their plot and what kinds of work will need to be done. Groups should plan regular meetings as a form of community networking and social activity.
Finally, it is a good idea to look into garden insurance for your community. This can help to reimburse you for losses in the event of theft or accidents.
Growing Urban Communities
Community gardens have many benefits for urban residents. By replacing distressed vacant land with a community garden plot, garden organizers can help to reduce crime and make neighborhoods safer. The urban garden has many health and environmental benefits as well. Children can learn to eat healthy food and practice a skill that they can use throughout their lives.
Marc Zboch believes that the urban garden presents a huge benefit for all communities. He encourages would-be organizers to contact their municipality to find out how they can start gardening together.