Friday, August 8, 2014

Using Community Gardens to Manage Space and Build Togetherness

Gardens are a great American past time that not only fosters healthier living but allows for an outlet for interest that offers dividends to the caretakers. In urban areas gardens can be difficult to foster and find. When done well they provide a level of improvement to the local atmosphere and create a community action outlet. 

The small urban garden I had the good fortune to experience was located inside the ML King Promanade Park near the Harbor Club Homeowners Association. It is a small garden as a place to sit for moment and ponder nature. You probably wouldn’t even notice it except for the peculiar landscape. 

Urban gardens have a whole host of benefits that include land preservation, community participation, ownership, and proper use of space (Eizenburg, 2012). As a tool urban gardens draw attention to more productive land use where community members engage in shared projects. 

Let us take an example of a few hundred square feet sitting vacant between buildings. This land could be poorly maintained by cities with stretched budgets and collect garbage from careless polluters. As a garden it potentially can be used to improve the landscape and draw community members together while reducing city budgets. 

It has the potential to connect people to nature and the food supply chain. In large cities children may have grown up not knowing where their food comes from and how it is grown. Having a community garden gives them a chance to understand how to cultivate the land and help them connect with other community members. 

Gardens offer a better way of managing vacated land and those nooks and crannies found between buildings. Those who see the gardens may appreciate the aesthetic beauty but are likewise prompted to the idea that this is a community that is actively engaged. With any luck it can improve the neighborhoods image, property values, and lower crime by helping residents engage and watch over each other. 

Eizenberg, E. (2012). The changing meaning of community space: two models of NGO management of community gardens in New York City. International Journal of Urban & Regional Research, 36 (1).

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