Civics · Community Engagement · Gardening

Community Gardens

For many of us a community garden is a common area where individuals and families can secure a space to grow food for themselves.  It also often becomes a communal gathering space to share stories.

But I have been reminded lately of different ways that community gardens can function.  For instance, I have a friend in Seattle who wanted to start gardening in his backyard this summer.  But he doesn’t have the experience to successfully grow a wide variety of plants.  So in speaking with a neighbor who has a well developed backyard garden, my friend has decided to plan sweet corn, since his neighbor doesn’t have the space remaining to grow this space-intensive crop.  The plan is for them to swap produce throughout the growing season.  The community garden is the sharing of produce grown in different private backyards.

This past weekend I joined the Tour De Fruit bike ride around Urbana, Illinois.  The ride looked at a range of edible berry, fruit, and nut shrubs/trees in public spaces around the city.  This is another great example of expanding the definition of community garden to include plants intentionally grown in the public rights of way and parks, where anyone can walk up and enjoy the harvest.  The Champaign/Urbana Fruit Map provides a great listing of many of these plants.

Whatever the form, community gardens are a great way to eat locally grown foods while also meeting your neighbors, getting some exercise, and reconnecting with nature.

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