Community Spirit Thrives in the Community Garden
Community gardens might look like a recent trend in the environmental movement, but did you know that they have been around in one form or another since the 1890s (http://ljlawson.rutgers.edu/assets/pdf/UGPlecture.pdf)? At that time, the mayor of Detroit actually proposed the first community garden in his city to provide food for those in need. Today, the community garden provides fresh, sustainable food to those same populations, but it does a lot more. It connects people with nature, provides a form of exercise, educates people about the environment and healthy eating, can generate income, and fosters community spirit.
There is lots of information out there about how to start a community garden (visit the resources listed below). The first step is to connect with your community. Talk to your neighbors, co-workers, friends - even people you might at first glance think aren't interested - they might surprise you!
There are all kinds of options for finding and securing land (see resources listed below), and once you do that, you'll need to decide if the community wants individual gardens or a large one.
Some of the most successful community gardens are in underserved areas of large cities. One example close to Delta Zeta's home in Oxford, Ohio is the Over-the-Rhine People's Garden in Cincinnati, about an hour south of Oxford. The Over-the-Rhine People's Garden is worked by local residents, youth programs and community groups to grow fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables for their personal use and to be donated to community food banks (Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati).
The community garden's outreach does much more than provide food, although that is its most important function. Community gardens like these instill pride in those who cultivate them, teach people skills and self-sufficiency, improve the neighborhood and, in some cases, lower crime rates (National Gardening Association).
Even if you live in a climate that is in the grip of winter weather now, there is no time like the present to begin planning a community garden for spring -- a way to "give graciously" of ourselves while giving others the opportunity to embrace a new and better way of life.
If you start or participate in a community garden project, please let Pink Goes Green know about it, and we'll post it to our blog!
WikiHow: How to Start a Community Garden
Let's Move Community Garden Checklist
TLC How Stuff Works: Community Gardens
The Greenest Dollar: How to Start a Community Garden