Jenna Careri / March 21st, 2017
Many community gardens are built in vacant lots that are cheap to purchase but require continual involvement to thrive. By growing gardens together, neighbors have the opportunity to become closer while beautifying their community. The result is a close-knit group that benefits from a joint effort. Another major perk is increased accountability with your neighbors – which means a possible decrease in crime of up to 55 percent, according to a Michigan State University study. Prettier, safer neighborhoods increase property values and attract new businesses.
Inspire community ownership
Community gardens are popping up around the country as an ecofriendly food source that benefits communities in more ways than one. These small patches of land often transform abandoned lots into lush green spaces that encourage community ownership and togetherness. Perhaps the greatest benefit of community gardens is the promotion of total body wellness – nutritional, mental and physical. Although there are many advantages, continue reading for six benefits of community gardens.
Share the responsibility (and benefits)
In many areas, residents are not afforded a large backyard to grow the plants they want. If you do have a big backyard, sizable gardens may be difficult to maintain on your own. Community gardens solve the maintenance and land availability issues with volunteer involvement and sponsorship.
Improve air quality
Communities at home and abroad are doing their part to improve air quality by cutting down on their carbon footprint. For example, people are choosing greener ways to get around by using public transportation, biking or carpooling. Although these tactics can improve air quality in the long run, they cannot undo pollution already in the air. Community gardens improve air quality in your immediate area by releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere by way of the carbon cycle.
Reduce food transport
The cost of foods found in grocery stores are a reflection of the production cost, as well as transportation cost. The lengths it takes for food to get to your doorstep, or can be harmful to yourself and the environment. Transportation of food – by way of planes, trucks and ships – produces pollutants, while causing about 40% of fresh food to spoil in transit, as stated by the National Resources Defense Council. The produce that survives the trip is often filled with preservatives to extend their shelf life. Community gardens avoid lengthy food miles by supplying neighborhoods with preservative-free produce traveling shorter distances.
Community gardens are defined as green spaces maintained by volunteers for public use. However, the different types of community gardens may surprise you. Today, there are gardens serving various roles, including: donation gardens, school gardens, allotment gardens, market gardens and therapy gardens. Hospitals and other healing centers are increasingly incorporating therapy gardens, which give patients an opportunity to exercise and get fresh air. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention credits gardening with being an excellent physical activity that can lower your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and depression.
Grow nutritious food for your neighborhood
Access to nutritious food is especially important in lower income areas where supermarkets are sparse and fast-food restaurants are plentiful. These areas, often called food deserts, have a higher risk of diet-related health problems. In Texas, the Growing and Nourishing Healthy Communities program invites residents of food deserts to grow their own nutritious food. Initiatives like this one are beginning to meet the needs of food deserts around the country by including the residents in planting and maintaining their own community garden.
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