Pluses and Minuses of Community Gardens, Part I

If community gardens are so popular across the United States, why wouldn’t your community want one?

The short answer is, yes, you probably would. Benefits do seem to outweigh negatives. But in what appears to be an unblinking examination of the popular national trend, three researchers from Multiple generations working in a community gardenthe Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future unearthed — pardon the pun — a few cautions for those of us gung-ho about digging in the dirt.

The cautions come in the form of things to consider — items we might not be aware of in our haste and enthusiasm to start a community garden or become involved in one.

In Part I of our series on the pluses and minuses of community gardens, we’ll tackle the good stuff first. Some of the most obvious pluses of community gardening are detailed below.

Fosters a sense of community

If you’re moving, and you do garden or want to learn how, consider looking for a neighborhood with an existing community garden. It’s a great way to to meet your neighbors.

Neighbors and community members who garden together, usually learn more about each other. That knowledge and familiarity can help strengthen a neighborhood’s social bonds. You’re not merely waving from driveways — you’re beautifying the community, growing yummy food or creating lovely landscapes for everyone to enjoy. As a result, other residents may see a group of neighbors having fun side-by-side, and want in on the action.

Educates and involves

Along with having fun and creating community, gardens are great places to learn. By indulging your inner farmer, you can learn basic horticultural techniques that will serve you well no matter where and how you garden in the future.

If you move away from your neighborhood community garden, you’ll know how to create your new one, whether with a new set of neighbors, or your own backyard plot. And, there’s an added educational benefit for kids. Youngsters who learn how to grow their own food and flowers take those life lessons with them. They also might be more likely to eat their vegetables!

Creates critical green space

We all can use more of this. Parks, open fields and landscaped and wilderness vistas can be hard to find in dense urban and suburban areas. It’s always nicer to break up buildings, parking lots and highways with pockets of trees, shrubs and flowers.

A community garden ensures that a portion of any community — whether in a neighborhood or a central area near retail or public areas — has something blooming and fruitful, and somewhere pleasant to rest your gaze.

Good for the environment

All that critical green space above means lots of leafy things that constantly clean and purify the air. Plus, many smart gardeners will start a shared compost pile to make their own fertilizer instead of buying chemical versions. All-natural products like compost not only help the environment, they’re also thrifty because you’re making your own products instead of buying them.

Other smart gardening tactics include spreading mulch to repress weeds. Mulch also maximizes any watering you do because it keeps water from evaporating and forms a blanket to keep it from running off.

In Part II of our series, we’ll examine some potential pitfalls for community gardens.

Ready for your new gardening home? ICI Homes can help. Begin here.