Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#10 of 100 Simple Suggestions... Join a community garden

What can be simpler than growing your own food? I know, it takes some work, but think of how it reduces the complexities of life! No fossil fuels, chemicals or slave labour required. There are plenty of reasons for growing a garden.

But looking back through my first ten Simple Suggestions, I realize that suggestion #3, plant a seed, isn't easy for a lot of urban dwellers. Condo balconies don't always face the sun, and basement suites don't get much light, either. Fortunately, there are options for people who long for the little bit of self-reliance that comes from growing a vegetable or two for your own table. Many cities, including my own, have community gardens, places where you can rent a little plot and plant seeds to your heart's content.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, today I'm borrowing information from Edmonton's Community Garden Network:

A community garden is a group of people who garden in individual plots and/or common areas. In Edmonton, most gardens are operated in partnership with a not-for-profit entity such as a municipal department, social service agency, church or co-operative housing complex. Community gardens are created for a variety of reasons. Primarily, community gardeners grow for food self-reliance, for physical activity, and for social interaction.
Community gardens serve a community of diversity: the elderly, teens, low income, newly arrived immigrants, young children, and people with a variety of physical and mental capacities. Quality of life is enhanced for all; influencing the individual, the family and the community in many ways. On a personal level, individuals are healthier with access to organic fruits and vegetables, are physically more active, and enjoy the benefits of social interactions with their neighbours. Depressed, isolated individuals become healthy community leaders. Troubled youth become involved and productive. Families learn to work together to increase their food security. Recent immigrants to Canada feel more at home and more engaged with their neighbours. Food is grown for the food bank.

As well, physical change takes place within the community landscape. Unsafe, unsightly abandoned lots are turned into safe and vibrant community gathering places. Neighbourhoods are greener, and have better weed and litter control.
In spite of the fact that I have a large-ish garden already, one of my dreams is to see a community garden started here in my neighbourhood. Today I discovered that our Community Garden Network website has a whole section on how to do just that. I'll be hosting a back yard wine and cheese party with composting information on the side in a couple of weeks, and maybe I'll see if anyone there is interested in starting a community garden. There's a Senior's Association nearby that would be the perfect place for a garden that brings community together.

If you have any community garden experience, I'd love to hear about it... and if you don't, here's a link to the Edmonton Community Garden Network, where there's more information:

http://www.edmcommunitygardens.org/

I'm sure there are Networks like this one all over the world. If you can't find a garden near you, see if you can find a few more would-be gardeners near you, and see what you can do about starting one. Our internet age should make it easy to share information and get growing. Happy Gardening!

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? See here.

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