Those living in urban landscapes often miss the great, green outdoors. Especially since most of the things they see are the gray, drab city buildings and cars that make a lot of loud noise. Many children grow up rarely seeing plants and vegetation, as the city has become the norm for them. While we can’t exactly bring nature back into our concrete cities, we can slowly reintroduce greens and plants into it.
And this is where community gardens can shine. Let’s take a look at how community gardens can help our children and us.
Helps Produce Healthy Food Locally
In many cases, gardening can become the foundation of a sustainable food system and prevent families from relying on food banks. Furthermore, as we have seen, fresh food results in a healthier diet, prevents obesity, and increases immunity. Food insecurity affects children in many ways. Children who are forced to eat unhealthy food, especially processed food, experience stunted growth, obesity, and other health problems.
Lack of nutrients also affects the child’s brain, bones, and immune system development. There are numerous programs to help kids who are food insecure. If your community is interested in a food-growing program in the spring or fall, a community garden is the best way to create a system that produces food for everyone.
Improves Local School Children’s Health
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that garden-based programs are extremely effective at improving the health of children. Research from Johns Hopkins University has shown that school gardens improve students’ nutrition, sense of well-being, and knowledge of the environment. School gardens are gardens in schools but are often run by people from the community.
In the United States, schools in most communities have a large plot of land at their disposal, so school gardens are a natural extension of a school’s existing programs. Other communities can find gardens at community centers, church basements, or local community colleges. Community garden programs and tree plantings in community parks have been shown to have a wide range of positive health and environmental benefits.
Provides Social and Physical Activities to Children
Gardens are also becoming a powerful tool to boost the self-esteem of children and increase their social and mental health. By being around other people and being exposed to the many activities they participate in, urban gardens offer a great opportunity to connect with children in a fun, enjoyable, and educational way. Children can participate in all sorts of activities with children of all ages.
Gardening and participating in fun, engaging activities are also a great way to strengthen relationships with their peers and are a way to teach them about community and our environment. Children who participate in urban gardening are more likely to:
• Feel good about themselves
• Feel important in the community
• Have a greater sense of purpose
• Have more friends
Creates a Sense of Community
The greatest benefit of community gardens is that it fosters a sense of community and belonging. Many people say that they do not belong to any community, but it is a mistake to define community by this. Community is what we feel about those people we share this sense of community with.
Community gardens provide this sense of community, as it gives everyone something to work together with and something to look forward to. People are drawn to them, and many people actually find community gardens to be “home.” This is a key point and one of the reasons why so many people enjoy working in community gardens.
How to Bring Community Gardens to Your Area
Bringing community gardens into your area is by no means an easy feat, but it’s possible. Through shared community efforts, a public garden is very much feasible. Here are a few tips.
- Organize a team or a committee of like-minded people to help you set everything up. You need the help of everyone you can get as this can never be a one-person project.
- Talk with local government units about land use and potential support, something that you will need to make everything legal.
- Connect with local establishments and businesses to get help in acquiring materials like injection-molded plant boxes, gardening tools and materials, and other equipment to make the process easier.
Community gardens are a great way to give everyone a positive activity to do. It helps in many ways and is one of the greatest uses for unoccupied lots. It can be a struggle to get it going, but it’ll all be worth it.