By Kristen McIvor, Community Garden Coordinator for the Pierce Conservation District, Tacoma, WA
What is a community 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