By Izaiah Hill
What is a community garden?
A community garden is a place where land is gardened or cultivated to produce fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and more. A community garden is most often maintained by volunteers who believe in the cause and have the time and passion to put in the work.
How do they work?
A community garden works by relying on volunteers or non-profits in the community, who each contribute time, materials, effort, and resources to make them run smoothly. If there is a program in place, composted food from the community can be contributed to the garden to act as a fertilizer. This saves food waste from going to the landfill, and helps the garden grow. It’s a win-win.
How they help you and your community…
Community gardens are great for bringing nutritious food to “food deserts”. They can also transform a vacant lot from dirty and polluted to a place full of fresh food, flowers, and pollinators. Community gardens also promote sustainable agriculture. By growing food locally, you decrease the amount of distance food needs to travel (“food miles”), thus reducing the greenhouse gas emissions caused by transportation. By growing food locally, you reduce the food miles distance drastically. This is important to reduce emissions, and help fight climate change. Community gardens also teach residents useful skills, help create a sense of community, transform vacant land, reduce water run-off, and provide nutritious food and physical activity for people involved.
Long-term positive impacts of community gardens…
There are many long-term positive effects of community gardens. One of the biggest ones would be the reduction in “food miles” , and the increase in nutritious food folks in the community. Another large impact of community gardens in the transformations of vacant lots. Community gardens have been proven to reduce crime rates and increase a sense of community. One of the final long-term impacts would be the life-long skills the volunteers develop while working in a community garden, and the mental health benefits associated with community gardens.
Getting involved in a community garden is easy. The first step would be to find an organization or group of individuals who run a community garden program near you- check out this link to information about Parry Sound community gardens. Second would be to talk to them about volunteer opportunities in your area, and find where you would be the best fit, and make the biggest impact. If there isn’t a community garden program near you, you could also consider starting your own! Most if not all of these programs start with an organization, or an individual, who wants to make a good impact on their community, and help their neighbours.