Community gardens are collaborative projects on shared open spaces where participants share in the maintenance and products of the garden, including healthful and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.
Gardens may offer physical and mental health benefits by providing opportunities to
- Eat healthy fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Engage in physical activity, skill building, and creating green space.
- Beautify vacant lots.
- Revitalize communities in industrial areas.
- Revive and beautify public parks.
- Create green rooftops.
- Decrease violence in some neighborhoods, and improve social well-being through strengthening social connections.
Resource Library/ White Papers
The nonprofit National Gardening Association (NGA), available at: http://www.garden.org/home, is a leader in plant-based education. NGA connects people to gardening in five core fields: plant-based education, health and wellness, environmental stewardship, community development, and responsible home gardening.
The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA), available at: http://communitygarden.org/, is a binational, nonprofit membership organization of professionals, volunteers, and supporters of community greening in urban and rural communities. ACGA’s Web site provides information, tools, links, and resources for starting a community garden and locator tool for finding the nearest community garden.
Cultivating community gardens: the role of local government in creating healthy, livable neighborhoods. Available at: http://www.lgc.org/freepub/docs/community_design/
fact_sheets/community_gardens_cs.pdf [PDF - 190 KB].
Detailed Case Studies
Improving food security in Del Paso Heights, California. Available at: http://www.lgc.org/freepub/community_design/
factsheets/community_gardens/casestudy_1.html. According to Local Government Commission’s Web site,
"The Sacramento neighborhood of Del Paso Heights is an ethnically diverse, low-income community with limited access to healthy foods. Many of the residents are from cultures that value farming, but lack access to gardening space.
To address the area's poor access to fresh fruits and vegetables and the significant increases in obesity, a task force comprised of community and local government organizations convened in 1994 and decided to develop a community garden as their first project."
Case study: gardening in the San Diego School District. Available at: http://www.transformgov.org/assets/0/72/1412/
38fcf4b3-38b9-475a-ab0e-919531e3e947.doc [DOC - 25 KB].
"Students at Rosa Parks Elementary School in the San Diego, Calif. can enjoy the benefits of a community garden right on their school’s campus. The school is located in the City Heights neighborhood where residents are predominately Latino, African-American and Southeast Asian, and 54.5 percent of families earn incomes below the federal poverty level."
Case study: food policy councils sow seeds for better health. Available at: http://www.lgc.org/freepub/community_design/
"Oregon's Portland/Multnomah Food Policy Council (FPC) was developed in 2002 by a joint action of the city of Portland and Multnomah County. Housed in Portland's Office of Sustainable Development, the FPC provides research and recommendations to the city on institutional food practices, citizen food awareness, hunger and food access, urban land use policies, business and economic issues and environmental impacts on the food system."
Five-Year Strategic Plan as guidance for the expansion of Seattle's community gardening program and adopting the policies and procedures necessary for the implementation of the plan. Available at: http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~scripts/nph-brs.exe?
"A RESOLUTION adopting a Five-Year Strategic Plan as guidance for the expansion of Seattle's community gardening program and adopting the policies and procedures necessary for the implementation of the plan."
Berkeley, California’s general/comprehensive plan/inclusion of community gardens. Available at: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/contentdisplay.aspx?id=494.
Berkeley, California’s general plan states that the city will “encourage and support community gardens as important open space resources that build communities and provide a local food source” in the open space element. Berkeley’s general plan lists action steps, which include pursuing community gardens in specific new developments and high-density areas. The General Plan’s Open Space and Recreation Element states in part:
"There is also a growing demand for additional community gardening sites. There are currently 17 community gardens in Berkeley. The City owns five of the sites, the Berkeley Unified School District owns four, the University of California owns two, and the rest are owned by a variety of nonprofits and private organizations."
Tauber M and Fisher A. A guide to community food projects: community food security coalition. 2002. Available at: http://www.foodsecurity.org/cfsc_case_studies.pdf [PDF - 748 KB]. The guide provides examples of successful community garden projects that are funded by the Community Food Projects Program.
Got Dirt? Gardening Initiative. The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Service’s Nutrition and Physical Activity program provides a garden toolkit to encourage healthy eating and increased physical activity. Available at: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/physical-activity/FoodSystem/Gardening/GotDirt/index.htm, and http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/physical-activity/FoodSystem/Gardening/GotDirt/GotDirtorderform.pdf [PDF - 203 KB].
The City of Seattle, Washington, Department of Neighborhoods’ P-Patch Program provides organic community garden space for residents of 70 Seattle neighborhoods. Serving all citizens of Seattle with an emphasis on low-income and immigrant populations and youth, the community based program areas include community gardening, market gardening, youth gardening, and community food security. Available at: http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/ppatch/.
Lombard, KA, Forster-Cox S, Smeal D, O’Neil MK. Diabetes on the Navajo nation: What role can gardening and agriculture extension play to reduce it? Rural and Remote Health 2006;6:640.. Available at: http://www.rrh.org.au/publishedarticles/article_print_640.pdf [PDF - 1.05 MB].
Twiss J, Dickinson J, Duma S, Kleinman T, Paulsen H, Riveria L. Community gardens: lessons learned from California healthy cities and communities. American Journal of Public Health 2003;93(9):1435–438.
Wakefield S, Yeudall F, Taron C, Reynolds J, Skinner A. Growing urban health: community gardening in South-East Toronto. Health Promotion International 2007;22:92–101.