A community garden
is a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people.
Community gardens provide fresh produce and plants as well as satisfying labor, neighborhood improvement, sense of community and connection to the environment. They are publicly functioning in terms of ownership, access, and management, as well as typically owned in trust by local governments or not for profit associations.
A city’s community gardens can be as diverse as its gardeners. Some grow only flowers, others are nurtured communally and their bounty shared, some have individual plots for personal use similar to the allotment gardens
An allotment garden, often called simply an allotment, is a plot of land made available for individual, non-professional gardening. Such plots are formed by subdividing a piece of land into a few or up to several hundreds of land parcels that are assigned to individuals or families...
seen in England and other parts of Europe, while others have raised beds for disabled gardeners.
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. Community gardens encourage an urban community's food security
Food security refers to the availability of food and one's access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. According to the World Resources Institute, global per capita food production has been increasing substantially for the past...
, allowing citizens to grow their own food or for others to donate what they have grown. 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.
Community gardens improve users’ health through increased fresh vegetable consumption and providing a venue for exercise. 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. Active communities experience less crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...
Unlike public parks, whether community gardens are 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. There is no 'off the shelf model' of a community garden, however; they provide a green space in urban areas, along with opportunities for social gatherings, beautification, education and recreation.
However, in a key difference, community gardens are managed and maintained with the active participation of 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 often encourage food production by providing gardeners a place to grow vegetables and other crops. To facilitate this, a community garden may be divided into individual plots or tended in a communal fashion, depending on the size and quality of a garden and the members involved.
As discussed below, "community garden" is the term favored in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. One source and clearinghouse on community gardening information in North America is The American Community Gardening Association, a non-profit membership organisation. Research is forming as to whether or not Community Gardening dictates a connotation with social change in the U.S.A. and how changing this term may benefit the effort to involve entire communities.
Community gardens vary widely throughout the world. In North America, community gardens range from familiar "victory garden" areas where people grow small plots of vegetables, to large "greening" projects to preserve natural areas, to tiny street beautification planters on urban street corners. There are even non-profits in many major cities that offer assistance to low-income families, children groups, and community organizations by helping them develop and grow their own gardens. In the UK and the rest of Europe, closely related "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 mini-truck farms.
For all their diversity, however, most community gardens share at least four elements in common:
- land (or a place to grow something)
- some sort of organizing arrangements
In many ways community gardens are re-enforcing basic human instincts that are slowly deteriorating due to the convenience of modern life (http://www.kens5.com/video/featured-videos/Micro-gardens-help-poor-learn-to-supplement-food-91546344.html)
Land for a community garden can be publicly or privately held. One strong tradition in American community gardening in urban areas is cleaning up abandoned vacant lots and turning them into productive gardens. Alternatively, community gardens can be seen as a health or recreational amenity and 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 and their supporters throughout the world, since in most cases the gardeners themselves do not own or control the land directly.
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.
Two national surveys sponsored by the American Community Gardening Association in the late 1980s and mid-1990s, and other research, strongly support the observation that there is no "standard" community garden plot size, at least in the United States and Canada. Individual plot sizes vary widely depending on many factors, including location, land available for gardening, demand, physical and time limitations of the gardeners, among others. As a general rule, North American community garden plots tend to be smaller than European allotments. 6m × 6m (20 ft × 20 ft) is one common plot size (larger gardens in parks); 3m × 3m (10 ft × 10 ft) or 3m × 4.5 m (10 ft × 15 ft) is another (inner city gardens on small lots).
While food production is central to many community and allotment gardens, not all have vegetables as a main focus. 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 become "virtual" backyards, each highly diverse, creating a "quilt" of flowers, vegetables and folk art.
Gardeners may form a grassroots group to initiate the garden, such as the Green Guerrillas of New York City, or a garden may be organized "top down" by a municipal agency. The Los Gatos, California-based non-profit Community Gardens as Appleseeds offers free assistance in starting up new community gardens around the world.
Group and leadership selection
The community gardening movement in North American prides itself on being inclusive, diverse, pro-democracy, and supportive of community involvement. Gardeners may be of any cultural background, young or old, new gardeners or seasoned growers, rich or poor. A garden may have only a few people active, or hundreds.
Finally, all community gardens have a structure. The organization depends in part on whether the garden is "top down" or "grassroots". There are many different organizational models in use for community gardens. Some elect boards in a democratic fashion, while others can be run by appointed officials. Some are managed by non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...
s, 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 University.
Membership rules and fees
In most cases, gardeners are expected to pay annual dues to help with garden upkeep, and the organization must manage these fees. The tasks in a community garden are many, including upkeep, mulching paths, recruiting members, and fund raising. Rules and an 'operations manual' are both invaluable tools, and ideas for both are available at the ACGA.
There are some who argue against the value of community gardens. Some suggest that it re-enforces racism, supporting only a select group of privileged peoples in privileged areas.
However, others suggest that it directly confronts racism, namely by bringing diverse people together for a cooperative purpose.
Flanagan opposes gardens as an element of public school programs, rejecting the claim that they teach children what she believes are the fundamentals of education, and are essentially a trend for the privileged. However, gardens have been utilized as an effective means of science instruction, an avenue of civic engagement, and community development.
In Australia, community gardens have both received support and met resistance from local governments and planners. In a few instances, community gardens have not been recognized as a community service, are seen as an undesirable use of available land, are considered inconsistent with local government aesthetics or are absent from local planning policy.
Overlap Between Gardens and Art
Through exploration of community gardens, the overlap between gardens and art become evident. What Nicolas Bourriaud calls "relational art," community gardens serve as "a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space."
Community gardening could also be seen as a form of participatory practice.
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. Potluck
A potluck is a gathering of people where each person or group of people contributes a dish of food prepared by the person or the group of people, to be shared among the group...
s and paella
Paella is a Valencian rice dish that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century near lake Albufera, a lagoon in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. Many non-Spaniards view paella as Spain's national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish...
s are common, as well as regular meetings to manage the affairs of the garden.
In the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
, community gardening is generally distinct from allotment gardening, though the distinction is sometimes blurred. Allotments are generally plots of land rented 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.
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).
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
Islington is a neighbourhood in Greater London, England and forms the central district of the London Borough of Islington. It is a district of Inner London, spanning from Islington High Street to Highbury Fields, encompassing the area around the busy Upper Street...
's Culpeper Community Garden, or Camden
-Economy:In recent years, entertainment-related businesses and a Holiday Inn have moved into the area. A number of retail and food chain outlets have replaced independent shops driven out by high rents and redevelopment. Restaurants have thrived, with the variety of culinary traditions found in...
's Phoenix Garden
The Phoenix Garden is a local community garden in central London, England, established in 1984.Located in St Giles behind the Phoenix Theatre, within the London Borough of Camden, the Phoenix Garden is nestled between the busy Soho and Covent Garden areas...
Some of the larger community gardens act as a hub for the community, offering not just a pleasant green space, but also facilities for education and training. There are estimated to be more than 1,000 community-managed gardens in the UK.
The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (a registered charity) is a membership organisation that supports, promotes and represents community-run gardens in the UK.
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. river flood banks and other not suitable areas 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.
- Guerrilla gardening
Guerrilla gardening is gardening on another person's land without permission. It encompasses a very diverse range of people and motivations, from the enthusiastic gardener who spills over their legal boundaries to the highly political gardener who seeks to provoke change through direct action. It...
- Allotment gardens
- Communal garden
A communal garden is a normally formal garden for shared use by a number of local residents, typically in an urban setting. The term is especially used in the United Kingdom...
- Garden sharing
Garden sharing is a local food and urban farming arrangement where a landowner allows a gardener access to land, typically a front or back yard, in order to grow food....
- Community Supported Agriculture
- Intercultural Garden
Intercultural Gardens is a project of the German Association of International Gardens , resident in Göttingen. The project has the goal to further intercultural competence and racial integration.- Ideas and goals :...
- Community Food Security Coalition
The Community Food Security Coalition is a North American non-profit made up of 325 member organizations who focus on social and economic justice, the environment, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, community development, labor, anti-poverty, and anti-hunger initiatives...
, North American nonprofit organization
- Urban gardening
Urban gardening may refer to:* Container garden - Growing plants in pots or other containers, rather than in ground* Urban horticulture - Growing crops or ornamental plants in urban or semi-urban setting* Urban agriculture - Food production in urban setting...
- Public produce
Public produce is a subset of urban agriculture. It refers to fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs cultivated in public space, and freely available to the public. Public produce differs from traditional community gardens, as the produce from the latter is generally not for public consumption, but...
- Urban horticulture
Urban and peri-urban horticulture includes all horticultural crops grown for human consumption and ornamental use within and in the immediate surroundings of cities. Although crops have always been grown inside the city, the practice is expanding and gaining more attention...
- Karen Schmelzkopf. Urban Community Gardens as Contested Space. Geographical Review, Vol. 85, No. 3 (Jul., 1995), pp. 364–381
- Lauren E. Baker. Tending Cultural Landscapes and Food Citizenship in Toronto's Community Gardens. Geographical Review, Vol. 94, No. 3, People, Places, & Gardens (Jul., 2004), pp. 305–325
- Carol Ward, et al. Weeding out Failed Practices: A Case Study of Community Gardens in Rural Mali. Human Ecology, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Aug., 2004), pp. 509–52
- Laura J. Lawson. City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.