behavior · community

Building gardens to promote community

Before I share my ideas for the latest OpenIDEO challenge, I wanted to capture some of the ideas I submitted for their challenge “How might we inspire and enable communities to take more initiative in making their local environments better?

Here is my first one:

Community gardens create ownership, a sense of place, and shared goals

Community gardens provide green space, community ownership, local landmarks and create a communal space for people to share, and beauty as well as food!

Urban farming and agriculture has exploded in popularity in the United States, and . community gardens are now present in all 50 states. These communal green spaces can be as small as a parking space or as large as a few acres. They can be used to produce food, act as filtering systems for urban runoff such as rain gardens, or simply grow flowers.
Research is finding that these gardens are beneficial to communities for numerous reasons. First, these gardens provide green space and support the local environment, from migrating birds and bees to potentially filtering urban runoff. Second, they can often supplement vegetables for communities who live in densely urban areas where it can be hard to access fresh fruits and veggies through a grocery store. Third, these gardens create a sense of ownership not only for those working actively in the garden, but anyone who lives in the neighborhood. Creating this sense of ownership for a small space makes it more likely that communities will work together to protect and save larger green spaces, such as beaches or parks, that the community can share and enjoy in.
Community gardens are easy to set up and maintain, with minimal initial investment other than some seeds and a shovel. The key to success would be the need to designate a leader at first to spearhead the building and maintaining of the garden, to teach others and look over things until the garden was established and other knowledgeable gardeners began to work the space, or new gardeners who learned from experience in the community garden. The garden leader would need to be able to lead but not “own” the garden, but rather make it accessible for all community members.