Community gardening: What's it for?
While the tangible benefits of a community garden may be its fruits and vegetables, the intangibles are perhaps even more valuable. "In a community garden people work together," says Kuhns. "Different ages and cultures mix." The AGCA lists a number of benefits that result from community gardening:
• Better quality of life for those involved
• Improved neighbourhood and community development
• Neighbourhood beautification
• Provision of nutritious and budget-friendly food
• Conservation of resources
• Preservation of green space
• Opportunities for cross-generational and cross-cultural connections
"Community gardeners also celebrate together," says Kuhns. "The harvest, friendships, helping each other out – their beautiful place."
Community gardens: How to get involved
There are two ways to get involved in a community garden: join an existing one, or create one yourself.
To find an existing community garden, Kuhns suggests the following steps:
• Go to a local community garden and start talking to people
• Look for announcements of community garden groups holding meetings
• Call your councillor or city recreation department
The AGCA also offers a searchable databases of community gardens in the U.S. and Canada, and many cities have community gardening information available online.
If there is no existing community garden near your home, or if you're aware of a neighbourhood space that would be the perfect location for a new community project, you may want to start a new community garden, "a long, but rewarding process," says Kuhns, who suggests starting – where else? – in the community, by organizing a meeting of interested people from your neighbourhood. Kuhns also recommends the following steps:
• Find a potential site. Space need not be an issue – community gardens come in all shapes and sizes – but you will need sunlight and access to water.
• Contact your city councillor. He or she can make things happen and give you access to municipal resources: you might get free soil testing, digging, topsoil and compost, for instance.
• Do lots of outreach work, especially with members of the potential garden's neighbourhood.
Community gardens are for everyone
Even if you enjoy gardening independently on your own land you can still get involved in a community garden. The human interactions that take place are "something you unfortunately see all too rarely," says Kuhns. "A community garden is a special place where people work together to make something big and beautiful."
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