Top 10 Benefits of Community Gardening

By Elizabeth Musoke

As I look around the garden at Better Farm, everything is beginning to take shape. We have a wide variety of vegetables growing. It is amazing to see things grow; you gain a new understanding and appreciation for what is on your plate.

I have loved community gardening so much that I wanted to research the benefits of having a community garden and how it relates to urban planning and the people that reside near it...(Yes, I am a little bit of an urban-planning nerd). I think the article I found, "Multiple Benefits of Community Gardening" by the Green Institute in Minnesota, relates to major urban cites as well as small towns. Any community, large or small, could reap the following benefits:
  • Economically beneficial to the city/town
    • Community gardens are less expensive to maintain than parkland.
    • Property values around community gardens are shown to increase.
  • Pocket Parks and Urban Greening
    • Community gardens green and beautify the city/town.
    • Residents have an enlightened appreciation of greenery.
  • Exercise
    • I can personally tell you that gardening is quite the work out. The article agrees and states that community gardens encourage physical activity and promote a healthy community.
  • Improved Diets
    • So far we have made salads from our garden and haven’t really had to purchase lettuce or other greens. As the harvest begins we will have more things to eat.
    • Having a community garden allows you to eat fresh, eat locally and eat safely (you know exactly how you have grown your produce.)
  • Food Production
    • The article states that low income families can afford foods that they ordinarily would not be able to afford.
    • Locally grown produce is seen as a more sustainable practice as it shortens the commodity chain (saving on fuel and packaging).
  • The Urban Ecosystem
    • Community gardens enhance the urban environment by: managing storm water runoff, reducing air pollution, reducing the “heat island” effect and more.
  • Youth Education
    • From my internship I have learned so much about managing a community garden and planting.
    • I think the youth (and adults…it's never too late) could learn a lot about how food is produced, the environment and sustainable living.
    • At my internship we have had to troubleshoot various garden problems and come up with solutions, learning new skills among other things. It has been very beneficial and you have a sense of satisfaction once you solve an issue.
  • Cultural Opportunities
    • Community Gardens in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area have provided various social and cultural enhancements:
      1. Inter-generational exposure to cultural traditions,
      2. Cultural exchange with other gardeners
      3. Access to non-English speaking communities.
    • I can say from experience you can really bond with people while working together for the same cause. You also learn a lot of new things from each other
  • Horticultural Therapy
    • The article describes this best: “Exposure to green space reduces stress and increases a sense of wellness and belonging.”
    • It is quite an awesome feeling!
  • Crime Prevention
    • I found this part of the article particularly intriguing.
    • The article states that community gardens instill a sense of pride and ownership within the community and builds a collective spirit.
    • Gardens also increase the number of “eyes” on the street (there are more people outside watching the surroundings as they garden).
Check out the article for more in depth details!