Community Gardens

By Kristen McIvor, Community Garden Coordinator for the Pierce Conservation District, Tacoma, WA

What is a community garden?

People standing in a garden

The American Community Gardening Association defines community garden broadly. A community garden can be urban, suburban, or rural. It can grow flowers, vegetables—or community. It can be one community plot, or many individual plots. It can be located at a school, hospital, or in a neighborhood.

Another way of thinking about community gardens are as “community-managed open spaces”. These differ from a park or public space where some other entity ultimately decides the purpose of the site and maintains it. Community gardens are where the residents of a community are empowered to design, build, and maintain spaces in the community.

Why community gardens?

Neighborhoods with successful gardens:

  • Combat food insecurity, both in quantity and quality
  • Build on the resources of cities, towns, and counties to deal with urban problems
  • Fight climate change by reducing the distance food travels; i.e., reduce the “carbon footprint” of food
  • Boost the local economy
  • Improve community health through better nutrition and increased physical activity
  • Create “social capital”

In short, community gardens build stronger and safer communities.


Next...Organizing a garden

Community gardening in Tacoma