Community gardens promote healthy communities, provide food security for low-income individuals, and address the issue of vacant land.
Community gardens and urban agriculture initiatives help serve neighborhoods in a variety of ways:
Provide a positive use of vacant land. When land banks demolish hopelessly blighted properties in their inventory, new in-fill development does not always come. These vacant plots of land do little to help a community if they are not properly maintained, therefore many land banks operate some sort of community garden initiative. In Columbus, Ohio, the land bank licenses out parcels in their inventory to individuals and groups who wish to cultivate the vacant land. Urban garden initiatives ensure former sites of blighted properties find a positive reuse, even if only temporarily.
Promote healthy living. Neighborhoods that have faced years of disinvestment often lack access to healthy foods and are referred to “food deserts”. Community gardens are one method to addressing this issue of food insecurity. Research has suggested that community gardens can reduce barriers to healthy foods and provide neighbors with opportunities for increased physical activity.
Increased civic engagement. Community gardens can work to bring neighborhoods together and increase trust among neighbors. The opportunity to work together has seen results in boosting levels of social capital, neighborhood engagement, and satisfaction.
Community gardens are relatively inexpensive tool to consider in addressing a city’s distressed neighborhoods. For more information on community gardens and urban agriculture, visit the Urban Land Institute and the American Community Gardening Association.
Header Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahrazak/