What is it? A community garden is a fairly simple idea. Just like it sounds, neighborhood residents come together to create and maintain a garden, sharing in the work as well as in the food produced. There are many models and variations, but community gardens enable residents to better connect through their shared work. In planning and tending the garden space, residents strengthen existing relationships and develop new social interactions. The process may also help residents develop new skills and generates a stronger sense of pride and ownership in the neighborhood itself. Even non-participants benefit from an attractive new space that adds to the area’s greenery while replacing an empty lot. In many areas, community gardens also help improve residents’ access to and appreciation for fresh and healthy food options.
How has it been used? Washington, DC has a thriving community garden scene. One of the entities working on community gardens in the area is the Capitol Hill Community Garden Land Trust. The Trust owns the land for some of the gardens in the Capitol Hill area. Project staff locates lots, many of which have been created from alleys and are less suitable for new construction. Since developers considered such spaces undesirable, they often are neglected and categorized as “blight.” The land trust helps neighborhood residents come together to transform these formerly blighted areas into community gardens. The gardens now help beautify the area, foster interactions among residents, and provide food to the neighborhood. (Source: DC’s Field to Fork Network)