When I moved into my home, last May, it didn’t take long to meet a few of my neighbors. It was a beautiful day and I had taken a book outside to sit in the sun and read. Little by little chairs were dragged over to join me and my book was quickly forgotten. The view from my front door faces an open field with nothing but weeds and I mentioned how it would be nice to have that area cleared so we could have a garden there. I envisioned a place where we could gather to have picnics and just hang out. One of my neighbors picked up her phone and called the management office to see if this could be done. That was the start to our community garden.
We have been out in the garden several times already this year clearing more weeds and debris from years of the land not being touched. The view from my front door has become much more beautiful to look at with each passing day.
Yes I rent my home, but renting shouldn’t stop you from getting out there and making the most of what is available to you. We live in a time where our food is brought in from many miles away, in some instances from another continent. So why don’t more people join together to start their own community garden?
For many, the idea of how to start and organize such a project can seem overwhelming. But there are resources out there which break it down for you in a step by step manner.
The benefits are so vast I could write for days. These include:
- Better Health from both the physical labor working in the garden to an improved diet as a result.
- A feeling of a safer neighborhood simply by getting to know your neighbors through the process
- Reduced crime in neighborhoods where community gardens are located
- Increased neighborhood stability. You will find more owner occupied homes, and those that rent tend to stay longer.
The information available suggests that starting a community garden can be as low as $200 for a small one or as high as $4000. My experience so far is that this can be done quite inexpensively. In my case, we are spending a lot of time versus money in getting this started. To get our first plot started last year a total outlay for lumber and plants was less than $50. Living near farms and knowing a few of those farmers we were able to have a load of manure free of charge. In many communities you can find compost free on local days if you are willing to pick it up.
While our garden is a work in progress we have already found many benefits.
- Place for the children to play away from the parking areas
- A quiet spot to visit away from the apartments
- An opportunity to introduce the children to the wildlife present, yes including the worms and why they are so good for our garden.
- A place to watch the sun set over the lake.
- A place to have picnics
- We even found a wide patch of wild strawberries giving us free food
- We now have the opportunity to have healthy food, without heading to the store.
Tomorrow is supposed to be just as warm, guess where you will find me?