Community gardens come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are on rooftops, in the courtyards of apartments, just outside of schools, or near parks in your neighborhood. There are many benefits of community gardens ranging from food security and affordability to increased environmental sustainability in our food systems. If you’ve never grown your own food before, trust me, it will inspire you to cook more and be proud of your produce.
Benefits of Community Gardens #5 – Food Security
Food security is a growing concern around the world and in the US. Urban cities generally have a higher percentage of people with limited access to healthy, affordable food. Community gardens offer fresh, affordable food that is right at their doorsteps. Several families and individuals with lower incomes have limited access to nutritious food. Some healthier food items are more expensive at grocery stores in comparison to calorie-dense frozen meals. Fast food takes less time to prepare and fills stomachs faster. If you struggle to put fresh food on the table, you would likely benefit from the affordability of community gardens. Depending on where you are located, you might be able to have fresh, inexpensive produce available much of the year.
Benefits of Community Gardens #4 –Food to Table
The goal of the Food to Table movement is to shorten the distance your food travels before it gets to your table. This term is commonly used to determine whether restaurants source their food locally or not. Find out some key benefits of farm to table here. Community gardens significantly lessen the distance, or the “food miles”, that your food travels. This saves greenhouse gases from being emitted through transportation and refrigeration while your food gets from a farm to a grocery store near you. Shorter food miles also ensures that your food is the freshest and richest in nutrients as possible.
When you grow food yourself, you know exactly what, if any, chemicals you are using on it. You will get the best taste when you eat it right after its been picked from a vine, dug out from the ground, or gathered from a bush. You might not be a huge fan of vegetables, but when you grow them yourself and get to eat them fresh from a garden, you may just change your mind.
#3 – Brings Communities Together
Personal gardens are great and have many benefits, but the community aspect of these gardens is nothing to skim past. They can create engaging activities and comradery for at-risk youth and anyone who is lacking a sense of community. Even preschoolers get excited about planting seeds, watering, and caring for their plants. When they see the first sprouts and finally the finished product, they are so proud of their work. The same is true of most people when they grow their own food. Communities are born when people spend time weeding and watering their plants together. Some school gardens even let students learn to cook their produce together. If your community garden has many residents nearby, you might start to have community dinners with your freshly harvested produce.
#2 – Reduces Food Waste
Food waste is a bigger issue in the United States than many people realize. According to the NRDC, in the US, we waste approximately 40% of the food that is produced. Not only does this food waste produce methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, but it also wastes all of the water, fertilizer, land, and energy used to grow, harvest, and transport that food. I know what you might be thinking…how do community gardens actually reduce food waste? The food lost during harvesting and transportation is drastically reduced when you harvest it and take it home yourself. Most stores have requirements for shapes and sizes of each item of produce, so pounds of waste are created there. However, the slightly misshapen vegetables that you grow will only be discarded if you choose not to eat them.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to leave my tomatoes on the vine to rot or let my broccoli wither away. Most people take more care of their own plants and eat it all before it goes bad.
#1 – Sustainable Sood Produced
Many people say that planting trees is the key to reducing the effects of climate change. They definitely have a point considering that trees are a natural carbon sink and help biodiversity flourish. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry…you’re not alone! Carbon sinks help sequester, or “soak up” carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is very useful in combating climate change since carbon dioxide is one of the leading greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. Community gardens act useful carbon sinks since they sequester carbon and provide healthy food for us to eat at the same time. When you compost the food scraps from your garden, the circle of plant life is complete. It prevents methane from being emitted into the atmosphere and provides nutrient-dense soil for your garden.
It’s easy to search for community gardens in your area, but what if there aren’t any? You might want to do this even if there are community gardens near you since the plot spaces can fill up quickly. Plus, getting more people involved in local community gardens is a win for the planet, your wallet, your body, and your taste buds. Being a part of a community garden and taking care of your crops every step of the way can give you a new perspective on our food system and provide some quality time outdoors with your community. Hopefully all of the wonderful community, health, and environmental benefits of community gardens in this article have given you something to consider. Trust me, you won’t regret getting involved and contributing to more urban beauty and cleaner air!