GROWING COMMUNITY I: WHAT, WHY & HOW?

photo: Garden Dining, Geoff Peters

For anyone interested in gardens as a context for fostering learning and interaction, the next three posts are guaranteed to provide you with inspiration and practical resources.

What are community gardens and where can they exist?
As new sprouts push their way through the ground in my corner of the world, I increasingly turn my attention to the ways in which communities interact in the environments they create. Some of the most exciting sites for communities to come together in are community gardens, allotment gardens, and ecology parks. Gardening together fosters communication and learning. It is also extremely versatile, existing in places such as on the grounds of schools, universities, public parks, government buildings, hospitals and high rises. Given the rich history of community gardening, there is also a wealth of resources available to assist those hoping to develop a garden in their own learning communities.

What’s so great about gardens?

  • They can happen almost anywhere – schools, universities, parks, cul-de-sacs, vacant lots, roof tops, old age homes, greenhouses
  • They provide a common place for people to come together, learn from each other, and learn about one another
  • They push us to take part in collective decision-making, skills sharing, and conflict resolution
  • They provide physical exercise and spaces for relaxation
  • They can provide food resources
  • They provide spaces for insects and other animal life
  • They aid us in experiencing and learning about our natural world
  • They provide a sense of accomplishment
  • They can be the starting point for additional community-focused initiatives such as shared meals, outdoor kitchens, and parks
  • In institutional settings, they provide an easily accessible opportunity to get outside. In the case of schools, gardens tie in with all curriculum areas and, more importantly, promote social learning and interaction.

How can I start & sustain a community garden?
Community gardening comes with challenges (which is, really, part of the point!). It is useful to gain inspiration from the actions of those who have come together on previous initiatives, and to learn from their wisdom. Fortunately, there are many fantastic resources that make starting and sustaining a community garden much easier…

Where can I see examples ? Go the next post – Growing Community II: 22 ways to get inspired

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4 responses to “GROWING COMMUNITY I: WHAT, WHY & HOW?

  1. Lovely post – you might like a similar photo-essay about gardens and community in Brooklyn, over at The Awl blog: http://www.theawl.com/2011/07/portuguese-peppers-make-good-neighbors

  2. Great post, Laura! Thanks for the link! Have you checked out what Seattle is doing with community gardening? If not, google “P-patch Seattle”. Also, you and the fam should come out to sooke and check out our new allotment garden if you haven’t already. We could meet for lunch down there some weekend! Best wishes, and keep the posts coming!

  3. Also, lifecycles in Victoria has put together resources on starting school gardens… I wonder if it might be available digitally??

  4. The Sooke allotment gardens (http://www.discoversooke.com/blog/2010/05/28/video-a-community-in-bloom-sooke-allotment-gardens/) do look great – I am definitely going to need to visit.

    Lifecycles does, indeed, have some great digital resources on school gardens – http://lifecyclesproject.ca/initiatives/growing_schools/school_garden.php

    Thanks for the tips Jess! I would love if anyone out there has more.

    I was also just handed a copy of Victoria’s Times Colonist which ran this story today: http://www.timescolonist.com/life/Growing+produce+down+farm+just+down+block/5092278/story.html

    I will also be posting more than 23 ways to get inspired about community gardening in my next two posts. Once one starts digging (I know, cheesy pun) there is an endless stream of phenomenal projects to discover out there!

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