Community gardening

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Strathcona Heights Community Garden in Ottawa, Canada

A community garden is a piece of land gardened or cultivated by a group of people individually or collectively. Normally in community gardens, the land is divided into individual plot, and each individual gardener is responsible for their own plot and the yielding or the production of which belongs to the individual[1], and in collective gardens the piece of land is not divided, a group of people cultivate it together and the harvest belongs to all participants. Some researchers do not distinguish between a community garden and a collective garden, but in reality, they operate on very different principals. Community gardens can be created on private or public land, where citizens can grow fruits, fine herbs, flowers, but mainly vegetables. Around the world, community gardens exist in various forms, it can be located in the proximity of neighborhood, in balconies or rooftops, its size varies greatly from one to another. Community gardens have experienced three waves of major development in North America, the earliest wave of community gardens development coincided with the industrial revolution and rapid urbanization process in Europe and North America, they were then called 'Jardin d'ouvrier' (or workers' garden), and the second wave of community garden development happened during the WWI and WWII, they were part of "Liberty Gardens" and "Victory Gardens" respectively; the most recent wave of community garden development happened in the 1970s during the OPEC crisis, results of grassroots movement in quest for available land to combat against food insecurity[2]. Nowadays, a new wave of community gardens has been observed globally, and this is maybe corelated to multiple crisis we are facing, such as ecological crisis, climate change and the new sanitary crisis. Community gardens contribute to urban agriculture movement and the request from citizens for more community gardens have been surging in recent years.

Background[edit]

Community garden in Chicago with clearly defined plots

According to Marin Master Gardeners, "a community garden is any piece of land gardened by a group of people, utilizing either individual or shared plots on private or public land".[3] Community gardens provide fresh products and plants as well as contributing to a sense of community and connection to the environment and an opportunity for satisfying labor and neighborhood improvement.[4] They are publicly functioning in terms of ownership, access, and management,[5] as well as typically owned in trust by local governments or not for profit associations.

Community gardens vary widely throughout the world. In North America, community gardens range from "victory garden" areas where people grow small plots of vegetables, to large "greening" projects to preserve natural areas, to large parcels where the gardeners produce much more than they can use themselves. Non-profits in many major cities offer assistance to low-income families, children's groups, and community organizations by helping them develop and grow their own gardens. In the UK and the rest of Europe, the similar "allotment gardens" can have dozens of plots, each measuring hundreds of square meters and rented by the same family for generations. In the developing world, commonly held land for small gardens is a familiar part of the landscape, even in urban areas, where they may function as market gardens.

Community gardens are often used in cities to provide fresh vegetables and fruits in "food deserts," which are urban neighborhoods where grocery stores are rare and residents may rely on processed food from convenience stores, gas stations, and fast-food restaurants. [6]

Community gardens may help alleviate one effect of climate change, which is expected to cause a global decline in agricultural output, making fresh produce increasingly unaffordable.[7] Community gardens are also an increasingly popular method of changing the built environment in order to promote health and wellness in the face of urbanization. The built environment has a wide range of positive and negative effects on the people who work, live, and play in a given area, including a person's chance of developing obesity [8] Community gardens encourage an urban community's food security, allowing citizens to grow their own food or for others to donate what they have grown.[7][9] Advocates say locally grown food decreases a community's reliance on fossil fuels for transport of food from large agricultural areas and reduces a society's overall use of fossil fuels to drive in agricultural machinery.[10]

Community gardens improve users’ health through increased fresh vegetable consumption and providing a venue for exercise.[7][11]

The gardens also combat two forms of alienation that plague modern urban life, by bringing urban gardeners closer in touch with the source of their food, and by breaking down isolation by creating a social community. Community gardens provide other social benefits, such as the sharing of food production knowledge with the wider community and safer living spaces.[12][13]

Ownership[edit]

Land for a community garden can be publicly or privately held.[14] In North America, often abandoned vacant lots are cleaned up and used as gardens.[15] Because of their health and recreational benefits, community gardens may be included in public parks, similar to ball fields or playgrounds. Historically, community gardens have also served to provide food during wartime or periods of economic depression. Access to land and security of land tenure remains a major challenge for community gardeners worldwide, since in most cases the gardeners themselves do not own or control the land directly.[16]

Some gardens are grown collectively, with everyone working together; others are split into clearly divided plots, each managed by a different gardener (or group or family). Many community gardens have both "common areas" with shared upkeep and individual/family plots. Though communal areas are successful in some cases, in others there is a tragedy of the commons, which results in uneven workload on participants, and sometimes demoralization, neglect, and abandonment of the communal model. Some relate this to the largely unsuccessful history of collective farming.[17]

Unlike public parks, whether a community garden is open to the general public is dependent upon the lease agreements with the management body of the park and the community garden membership. Open- or closed-gate policies vary from garden to garden. Community gardens are managed and maintained by the gardeners themselves, rather than tended only by a professional staff. A second difference is food production: Unlike parks, where plantings are ornamental (or more recently ecological), community gardens are usually focused on food production. [18]

Types of gardens[edit]

There are multiple types of community gardens.[19]

  • Neighborhood gardens are the most common type, where a group of people come together to grow fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants. They are identifiable as a parcel of private or public land where individual plots are rented by gardeners for a monthly or annual fee.
  • Residential Gardens are typically shared among residents in apartment communities, assisted living, and affordable housing units. These gardens are organized and maintained by residents living on the premise.
  • Institutional Gardens are attached to either public or private organizations and offer numerous beneficial services for residents. Benefits include mental or physical rehabilitation and therapy, as well as teaching a set of skills for job-related placement.
  • Demonstration Gardens are used for educational and recreational purposes in mind. They often offer short seminars or presentations about gardening, and provide the necessary tools to operate a community garden.
A 20ft x 20ft community garden plot in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Plot size[edit]

In Britain, the 1922 Allotment act specifies "an allotment not exceeding 40 [square] poles in extent"; since a rod, pole or perch is 5.5 yards in length, 40 square rods is 1210 square yards or 10890 square feet (equivalent to a large plot of 90 ft x 121 ft).[20] In practice, plot sizes vary; Lewisham offers plots with an "average size" of "125 meters square".[a][21]

In America there is no standardized plot size. For example, plots of 3 m × 6 m (10 ft × 20 ft = 200 square feet) and 3 m x 4.5 m (10 ft x 15 ft) are listed in Alaska.[22] Montgomery Parks in Maryland lists plots of 200, 300, 400 and 625 square feet.[23] In Canada, plots of 20 ft x 20 ft and 10 ft x 10 ft, as well as smaller "raised beds", are listed in Vancouver.[24]

Location[edit]

Community gardens may be found in neighborhoods,and on the grounds of schools, hospitals, and residential housing. The location of a community garden is a critical factor in how often the community garden is used and who visits it. Exposure to a community garden is much more likely for an individual if they are able to walk or drive to the location, as opposed to public transportation.[25] The length of travel time is also a factor. Those who live within a 15-minute or less travel distance are more likely to visit a community garden as compared to those with a longer travel time.[25] Such statistics should be taken into consideration when choosing a location for a community garden for a target population.

The site location should also be considered for its soil conditions as well as sun conditions. An area with a fair amount of morning sunlight and shade in the afternoon is most ideal. While specifics vary from plant to plant, most do well with 6 to 8 full hours of sunlight.[26]

When considering a location, areas near industrial zones may require soil testing for contaminants. If soil is safe, the composition should be loose and well-draining. However, if the soil at the location cannot be used, synthetic soil may also be used in raised gardens beds or containers.[26]

Rushall Garden in Melbourne, Australia, on land that was formerly a railway junction

Plant choice and physical layout[edit]

Food production is central to most community and allotment gardens. However, restoration of natural areas and native plant gardens are also popular, as are "art" gardens. Many gardens have several different planting elements, and combine plots with such projects as small orchards, herbs and butterfly gardens. Individual plots can be used as "virtual" backyards, each highly diverse, creating a "quilt" of flowers, vegetables and folk art.[citation needed]

Gardeners often grow in-ground--this type of garden contrasts most with an urban environment. Gardeners may also grow in raised beds, or in boxes, sometimes on top of a paved area. Gardens may include raised for use by people who cannot bend or work directly on the ground.

Gardening in raised boxes

Regardless of plant choice, planning out the garden layout beforehand will help avoid problems down the line. According to the Arizona Master Gardener Manual, taking measurements of the garden size, sunlight locations and planted crops vs. yield quantity, will ensure a detailed record that helps when making decisions for the coming years. Other considerations when laying out a plot are efficient use of space by using trellises for climbing crops, plant location so that taller plants (like sunflowers) do not block needed sunlight to shorter plants, and grouping plants that have similar life cycles close together.

Group and leadership selection[edit]

Community gardeners in North America may be of any cultural background, young or old, new gardeners or seasoned growers, rich or poor. Because of this diversity, when gardeners share their harvest, they often learn about cultural foods created from the plants grown by other gardeners.

Some community gardens “self-support” through membership dues, and others require a sponsor for tools, seeds, or money donations. Support may come from churches, schools, private businesses or parks and recreation departments.[27] Local nonprofit beautification and community-building organizations may contribute as well.

There are many different organizational models in use for community gardens. Most elect their leaders from within their membership. Others are run by individuals appointed by their management or sponsor. Some are managed by non-profit organizations, such as a community gardening association, a community association, a church, or other land-owner; others by a city's recreation or parks department, a school or a university.

Gardens are often started when neighbors come together to commit to the organization, construction and management of a garden, and are assisted by experienced organizers such as the Green Guerillas of New York City.[28] Alternatively, a garden may be organized "top down" by a municipal agency. In Santa Clara, California a non-profit by the name of Appleseeds[29] offers free assistance in starting up new community gardens around the world. Rules and an 'operations manual' are invaluable tools; ideas for both are available at the American Community Gardening Association[30] and in the United States, from local master gardeners and cooperative extensions.

Membership fees[edit]

In most cases, gardeners are expected to pay monthly or annual dues to pay for water, infrastructure, garden-provided tools, water hoses, ordinary maintenance, etc.

Health effects of community gardens[edit]

Community gardens have been shown to have positive health effects on those who participate in the programs, particularly in the areas of decreasing body mass index and lower rates of obesity. Studies have found that community gardens in schools have been found to improve average body mass index in children. A 2013 study found that 17% of obese or overweight children improved their body mass index over seven weeks.[31][32] Specifically, 13% of the obese children achieved a lower body mass index in the overweight range, while 23% of overweight children achieved a normal body mass index.[31] Many studies have been performed largely in low-income, Hispanic/Latino communities in the United States.[33] In these programs, gardening lessons were accompanied by nutrition and cooking classes and optional parent engagement. Successful programs highlighted the necessity of culturally tailored programming.

There is some evidence to suggest that community gardens have a similar effect in adults. A study found that community gardeners in Utah had a lower body mass index than their non-gardening siblings and unrelated neighbors.[34] Administrative records were used to compare body mass indexes of community gardeners to that of unrelated neighbors, siblings, and spouses. Gardeners were less likely to be overweight or obese than their neighbors, and gardeners had lower body mass indexes than their siblings. However, there was no difference in body mass index between gardeners and their spouses which may suggest that community gardening creates healthy habits for the entire household.

Participation in a community garden has been shown to increase both availability and consumption of fruits and vegetables in households. A study showed an average increase in availability of 2.55 fruits and 4.3 vegetables with participation in a community garden. It also showed that children in participating households consumed an average of two additional servings per week of fruits and 4.9 additional servings per week of vegetables.[35]

Policy implications[edit]

There is strong support among American adults for local and state policies and policy changes that support community gardens. A study found that 47.2% of American adults supported such policies.[36] However, community gardens compete with the interests of developers.[37] Community gardens are largely impacted and governed by policies at the city level. In particular, zoning laws--which incentivize or deincentivize land development--strongly impact the possibility of community gardens. Rezoning is necessary in many cities for a parcel of land to be designated a community garden,[citation needed] but rezoning doesn't guarantee that a garden will not be developed in the future.

Policies can be enacted to protect community gardens from future development. For example, New York State reached a settlement in 2002 which protected hundreds of community gardens which had been established by the Parks and Recreation Department GreenThumb Program from future development.[38]

At times, zoning policy lags behind the development of community gardens. In these cases, community gardens may exist illegally. Such was the case in Detroit when hundreds of community gardens were created in abandoned spaces around the city. The city of Detroit created agricultural zones in 2013 in the middle of urban areas to legitimize the over 355 “illegal” community gardens.[39]

Examples[edit]

Australia[edit]

Community Garden, Melbourne, Australia

The first Australian community garden was established in 1977 in Nunawading, Victoria followed soon after by Ringwood Community Garden[40] in March 1980.[41]

Czech Republic[edit]

The trend of community gardening in the Czech Republic is increasing. The first community garden was founded in 2002 and in 2020 you can find at the map of community garden named mapko.cz more than 116. If you are interested in more details, have a look at organisation Kokoza.cz, social enterprise promoting community gardening in CR.

Japan[edit]

In Japan, rooftops on some train stations have been transformed into community gardens.[42] Plots are rented to local residents for $980 per year. These community gardens have become active open spaces now.[43]

Mali[edit]

Often externally supported, community gardens become increasingly important in developing countries, such as West African (Mali) to bridge the gap between supply and requirements for micro-nutrients and at the same time strengthen an inclusive development.[44]

Spain[edit]

The squatted social center Can Masdeu is home to one of the largest community gardens in Barcelona.

Most older Spaniards grew up in the countryside and moved to the city to find work. Strong family ties often keep them from retiring to the countryside, and so urban community gardens are in great demand. Potlucks and paellas are common, as well as regular meetings to manage the affairs of the garden.[45]

Taiwan[edit]

There is an extensive network of community gardens and collective urban farms in Taipei City often occupying areas of the city that are waiting for development. Flood-prone river banks and other areas unsuitable for urban construction often become legal or illegal community gardens. The network of the community gardens of Taipei are referred to as Taipei organic acupuncture of the industrial city.[46]

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, community gardening is generally distinct from allotment gardening, though the distinction is sometimes blurred. Allotments are generally plots of land let to individuals for their cultivation by local authorities or other public bodies—the upkeep of the land is usually the responsibility of the individual plot owners. Allotments tend (but not invariably) to be situated around the outskirts of built-up areas. Use of allotment areas as open space or play areas is generally discouraged. However, there are an increasing number of community-managed allotments, which may include allotment plots and a community garden area, many of them overseen by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (a registered charity).[47]

The community garden movement is of more recent provenance than allotment gardening, with many such gardens built on patches of derelict land, waste ground or land owned by the local authority or a private landlord that is not being used for any purpose. A community garden in the United Kingdom tends to be situated in a built-up area and is typically run by people from the local community as an independent, non-profit organisation (though this may be wholly or partly funded by public money).[citation needed] For example, Norwich's Fifth Quarter Community Garden.

It is also likely to perform a dual function as an open space or play area (in which role it may also be known as a 'city park') and—while it may offer plots to individual cultivators—the organisation that administers the garden will normally have a great deal of the responsibility for its planting, landscaping and upkeep. An example inner-city garden of this sort is Islington's Culpeper Community Garden, which is a registered charity,[48] or Camden's Phoenix Garden.[49]

United States[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This apparently means 125m2 or about 1345 square feet, equivalent to a plot of about 15ft x 90ft.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "What is a community garden?". American Community Garden Association. Archived from the original on 2007-12-04.
  2. ^ Vikram, Bhatt (2016). "Cultivating Montreal: A Brief History of Citizens and Institutions Integrating Urban Agriculture in the City". UAR2 Urban Agriculture & Regional Food Systems. 1 (1): 1–12.
  3. ^ Marin Master Gardeners, Community Gardens, University of California, archived from the original on 10 May 2016
  4. ^ Hannah, A.K.; Oh, P. (2000). "Rethinking Urban Poverty: A look at Community Gardens". Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society. 20 (3): 207–216. doi:10.1177/027046760002000308. S2CID 144427985.
  5. ^ Ferris, J.; Norman, C.; Sempik, J. (2001). "People, Land and Sustainability: Community Gardens and the Social Dimension of Sustainable Development". Social Policy and Administration. 35 (5): 559–568. doi:10.1111/1467-9515.t01-1-00253.
  6. ^ "Oases in the urban 'food desert'? | Yale Environment Review". environment.yale.edu. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  7. ^ a b c Harris, E (2009). "The role of community gardens in creating healthy communities", Australian Planner, v. 46, no. 2 (June 2009) pp. 24–27.
  8. ^ Xu, Y., & Wang, F. (2015). Built environment and obesity by urbanicity in the U.S. Health & Place, 34, 19–29..
  9. ^ Nelson, Toni (1 November 1996). "Closing the nutrient loop: Using urban agriculture to increase food supply and reduce waste". World Watch. 9: 10–17.
  10. ^ [1]: Kishler, Les. Opinion: community gardens are a serious answer to food supplies, health (2010, March 18) San Jose Mercury News.
  11. ^ "Lean and green". Wellbeing.com.au. 1 May 2013. Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  12. ^ Harris, E (2009). Active communities experience less crime and vandalism.
  13. ^ Melville Court, Chatham, Kent," Moiser, Steve, Landscape Design, no306 (Dec. 2001/Jan. 2002) p. 34.
  14. ^ Hogbin, Tricia (20 November 2015). "How to start a community garden". NineMSN. Archived from the original on 20 November 2015.
  15. ^ Evelly, Jeanmarie (24 September 2014). "How You Can Turn New York City's Vacant Lots into Community Gardens". DNAinfo New York. Archived from the original on 21 September 2015.
  16. ^ Visionaries and planners : the garden city movement and the modern community, Stanley Buder. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-19-506174-8
  17. ^ "At The Community Garden, It's Community That's The Hard Part". NPR. 20 March 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  18. ^ Selected factors influencing the success of a community garden, by Gordon Arthur Clark. Kansas State University, 1980.
  19. ^ Resources, University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural. "Community Gardens". marinmg.ucanr.edu. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
  20. ^ "Allotments: a plotholder's guide" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  21. ^ "Allotments and community gardens". Lewisham Borough Council. Archived from the original on 10 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  22. ^ "Parks and Recreation: Community Gardens". Municipality of Anchorage. Archived from the original on 24 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  23. ^ "Community Gardens Program". Montgomery Parks, Maryland. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  24. ^ "Community Gardens". City of Vancouver. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  25. ^ a b Blaine, Thomas W.; Grewal, Parwinder S.; Dawes, Ashley; Snider, Darrin (December 2010). "Profiling Community Gardeners". 48 (6). Archived from the original on 5 May 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  26. ^ a b "Ten Steps to a Successful Vegetable Garden" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  27. ^ "Growing Community Across the U.S. and Canada – American Community Garden Association". American Community Garden Association. Archived from the original on 2018-04-16. Retrieved 2017-05-20.
  28. ^ Green Guerillas
  29. ^ Community Gardens as Appleseeds
  30. ^ American Community Gardening Association
  31. ^ a b Castro, DC; Samuels, M; Harman, AE (2013). "Growing healthy kids: a community garden-based obesity prevention program". American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 44 (3 Suppl 3): S193–9. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2012.11.024. PMID 23415183.
  32. ^ Chen, D.; Jaenicke, E. C.; Volpe, R. J. (2016). "Food Environments and Obesity: Household Diet Expenditure Versus Food Deserts". Am J Public Health. 106 (5): 881–888. doi:10.2105/ajph.2016.303048. PMC 4985118. PMID 26985622.
  33. ^ Davis, JN; Ventura, EE; Cook, LT; Gyllenhammer, LE; Gatto, NM (August 2011). "LA Sprouts: a gardening, nutrition, and cooking intervention for Latino youth improves diet and reduces obesity". Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 111 (8): 1224–30. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2011.05.009. PMID 21802571.
  34. ^ Zick, CD; Smith, KR; Kowaleski-Jones, L; Uno, C; Merrill, BJ (June 2013). "Harvesting more than vegetables: the potential weight control benefits of community gardening". American Journal of Public Health. 103 (6): 1110–5. doi:10.2105/ajph.2012.301009. PMC 3698715. PMID 23597347.
  35. ^ Salud America! Pilot Investigator Project Results (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2015
  36. ^ Foltz, JL; Harris, DM; HM, Blanck (2012), "Support among U.S. adults for local and state policies to increase fruit and vegetable access", Am J Prev Med, 43 (3): S102–8, doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2012.05.017, PMID 22898158
  37. ^ Schmelzkopf, Karen (1995). "Urban Community Gardens as Contested Space". Geographical Review. 85 (3): 364–381. doi:10.2307/215279. ISSN 0016-7428. JSTOR 215279.
  38. ^ Robert Fox Elder. (2005). protecting new york city's community gardens. New York University Environmental Law Journal, 13, 769–803.
  39. ^ Kaffer, N. (2010). Planners recommend new zoning, lower tax rate for urban farms. Crain's Detroit Business, 26(13), 8. 91 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 345. Retrieved from www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic
  40. ^ "Ringwood Community Garden". Archived from the original on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  41. ^ Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate (5 April 2013). "A Study of the Demand for Community Gardens and their Benefits for the ACT Community". ACT Government. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  42. ^ "まちなか菜園" (in Japanese). 17 May 2021.
  43. ^ Meinhold, Bridgette (25 March 2014). "Rooftop Farms on Japanese Train Stations Serve as Community Gardens". Inhabitat. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  44. ^ Hans-Heinrich Bass, Klaus von Freyhold und Cordula Weisskoeppel: Water harvesting, tree protection: towards food security in the Sahel, Bremen 2013
  45. ^ "Urban Gardens". Urbangardensbarcelona.wordpress.com. 25 November 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  46. ^ "The Community Gardens of Taipei" Casagrande, Marco (2010). P2P Foundation
  47. ^ "About FCFCG". Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  48. ^ "Culpeper Community Garden: Islington's Green Oasis". Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  49. ^ "The Phoenix Garden". Retrieved 12 January 2014.