Our local elementary school is built on land that was once a farm. As more and more development occurred in the area and the need arose for a new elementary school, the county bought this farm to provide a place to build the school. At one time, there was also a plan to build a middle school on the same property and 22 acres of land was reserved for that purpose. The middle school was never built, and now, almost 30 years after construction of the elementary school, that 22 acre parcel of land is still vacant. The land is also the site of the original farm house, the first portion of which was built in 1783.
The house has been added onto several times and has now been unoccupied for several decades. It is in great need of renovation/restoration. Fortunately, a group of interested citizens has formed dedicated to preserving this piece of local history. The preservation society has leased the property from the school board and slowly begun working on the house.
Another great thing they have done is to start a large garden plot on the farm property. The garden is divided up into plots which can be rented by members. The structure is what would normally be called a community garden. In this case, however, it has been named “sharing garden” rather then “community garden” because it is only available to preservation society members, not to everyone in the community. This is only a minor issue, though, because anyone can join the farm preservation society and then be eligible to rent a plot in the garden. This is exactly what I did.
Even though this garden is called “sharing garden”, I will use the term “community garden” for the rest of this post because I will be talking about community gardens in general. I am a strong supporter of the community garden concept for several reasons. First, if you don’t have a suitable location to plant a garden on your own property, it provides a way you can still grow your own food. But even if you do have all the land you need to garden, I still believe in the community garden for the interaction with other gardeners – both in the purely social aspect and to teach and learn.
This is the first time I have participated in a community garden, but I have lived in town and planted raised vegetable beds in the front yard before. No matter what I was doing in my front-yard garden, people would walk up to talk. Many of them had never gardened before, but they began to take interest. Even though it slowed me down a bit when trying to get something done, I really enjoyed these interactions and so did many of my neighbors.
The community garden experience is much the same, except that all the people are interested gardeners, whether experts, beginners, or somewhere in between. I have met many new people, learned some new things, taught some people a few things, given away some plants, and just enjoyed talking and spending time in the garden with other people. These are all great reasons to be a part of a community garden. It actually builds a community!
I have seen a wide variety of different methods to achieve the same goals. I will write about some of them in future posts.
If you have a community garden nearby, I say join up even if you already have plenty of space to garden at home. If you don’t have one available and you don’t have any other place to plant, try gardening in the front yard. One or two people may complain that you are lowering their property value (an absurd argument in my opinion), but most will think it is way cool and stop to talk every time they see you out there.
Leave a comment and let us know what you think. Do you participate in a community garden? Do you have more good reasons for community gardening? Have you ever planted vegetables in the front yard?
This post is linked to the Homestead Barn Hop. Check out some of the other great blogs there.