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.

architecture · community · environment · health · mental health · Social

Community gardens improve health, enrichment

Garden/Allotment
Garden/Allotment (Photo credit: tricky (rick harrison))

I’ve been pulling from The Dirt, the blog for the American Society of Landscape Architects, a lot lately, but there’s been a lot of great stuff coming off of their blog lately, including this conversation about the increase of urban agriculture, usually in the form of community gardens:

At the Greater & Greener: Reimagining Parks for 21st Century Cities conference in New York City, Laura Lawson, ASLA, Professor and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University, described how urban agriculture has experienced explosive growth in recent years. According to a survey produced by the American Community Gardening Associationand Rutgers University, community gardens are now found in all 50 states. Some 445 organizations responded to the survey, listing a total of 9,030 gardens. Of these organizations, 90 percent have seen increased demand over the past five years. Also, some 39 percent of the gardens listed were built just in the past five years. These organizations have a variety of goals, including food production and access, social engagement, nutrition, education, and neighborhood revitalization.

Sarita Daftary then discussed her work as Project Director of East New York Farms. East New York is the easternmost neighborhood of Brooklyn. A community of 180,000 residents, East New York is underserved by fresh food markets. The East New York Farms program (see image above) seeks to engage the community through its 30 backyard gardens and 24 community gardens, employing 33 youth interns, 80 gardeners, and 100+ volunteers.

The program addresses neighborhood food access through its farmers markets, growing and selling a diversity of unusual foods that reflect the diversity of the neighborhood.

Read more at City Bountiful: The Rise of Urban Agriculture

Community gardens put power back in the hands of people to improve their environment AND their nutrition. Feeling like you have control of your self and your situation is extremely important to humans, both at home and in the workplace, so even if it’s not going to solve world hunger, or even hunger in the U.S., it will help out a lot of people live happier, healthier, more enriching lives.

anthropology · behavior · community · culture · environment · health · Nature

It’s Raining Rain Gardens | Sightline Daily

View of a bioretention cell, also called a rai...
Example of a rain garden. Image via Wikipedia

Oh, all right, but only because you asked soooo nicely; for Earth Day, an example of how communities in the Puget Sound are coming together to protect the Earth and improve their own personal environments as well.

Researchers have pointed the finger at stormwater runoff as the top source of pollution that’s getting into Puget Sound and other Northwest waterways. And because runoff comes from just about everywhere — roofs, roadways, parking lots, farms, and lawns — the solution has to be just as widespread.

Enter 12,000 Rain Gardens.

This week Washington State University and Stewardship Partners, a nonprofit working on land preservation, announced a campaign to promote the installing of 12,000 rain gardens around Puget Sound by 2016. The website even has a counter tracking the number of gardens and encourages folks to enter their rain garden into the database.

more via It’s Raining Rain Gardens — Sightline Daily – Northwest News that Matters.

community · smell

The Pantry – a community kitchen – to debut in Seattle

I’m so excited! This is awesome, woot!

You may have noticed how I’ve been really getting into the idea of community cooking and gardening as a way of creating not only better community, and a better environment for human beings to reside in, but also a better environment to live in physically, AND better, healthier food!

I am also a bit of a foodie, and really like how homemade has now also come to mean quality made, at least when it comes to cooking.

With that train of thought, one of my favorite food bloggers, Molly at Orangette, who also just happens to be part owner/operator of a restaurant Delancey in Seattle (where I just happen to currently reside), has announced some of her staff are opening up a community kitchen, called The Pantry at Delancey.

The Pantry is a community kitchen. It’s a space for hands-on cooking classes, family-style dinners, private events, and locally sourced catering. It’s located directly behind Delancey, on Alonzo Avenue NW, with a garden entrance designed by Fresh Digs. (There’s only mud and fence posts right now, but not for long.) There’ll be a 16-foot farm table, a cooking camp for kids in the summertime, and a small retail area stocked with independent food magazines, Weck canning jars, Delancey cookie dough and pizza dough, all our best stuff. Brandi and Olaiya already have a number of classes in development: a pizza-making class with Brandon, butchering and meat-curing with Russ Flint of Rainshadow Meats, a food writing course with Francis Lam, a City Chickens class with the good people of Stokesberry Farm, classes with Olaiya, classes with Brandi, a class or two with me – more than I can easily list here. And eventually, the Pantry will also make a lot of products for Delancey, products that we currently have to source elsewhere, like fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, bacon, pancetta, and salame. The projected opening date is sometime in late spring. Cross your fingers.

more via Orangette: It’s called the Pantry.

Fingers crossed! I can taste the hand-rolled pancetta now!