Community gardens feed people

Bruce Coulter

According to the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA), a nonprofit group in the United States and Canada that is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, community gardening “improves people’s quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education.”

Vicky Garrett, project coordinator for ACGA, said a community garden can help people, especially those living in urban environments and are becoming more popular for a number of reasons.

“A few years ago there were more food scares – food from around the world with diseases such as E.coli. The economy crashed [and] people are hungry,” she said. “Fuel prices also add to food costs.”

According to Garrett, the average distance that produce travels is about 1,500 miles.

“There just aren’t enough localized farms,” she said.

Garrett said community gardens can also transform empty lots and urban blight into beautiful garden centers and often raise surrounding property values.

The cost for planting a garden and growing crops can vary, she said.

“New gardeners might have higher costs, but for gardeners with experience who know how to get a lot of production from a small area, the savings could be significant,” Garrett said.

Growing plants that are usually expensive – from packaged seeds to ready-to-buy produce, such as herbs, arugula and specialty peppers - can offset the cost of growing your own.

A community garden can also be used as a teaching project for children.

“It’s great for kids to see where food comes from,” Garrett said. “It actually comes from the ground. Many children think produce comes from the grocery store.”

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