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Community Gardening Toolkit

The benefits of community gardening

TodayAlthough most community garden programs before the 1970s were generally considered temporary solutions to food shortages, economic depression and civic crises, most advocates today claim that community gardens have permanent, long-term functions that provide a number of benefits to individuals, families and communities. Those benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Food production and access
    Community gardens enable people without suitable land of their own to grow high-quality fruits and vegetables for themselves, their families and their communities, possibly in places that lack grocery stores or other fresh food outlets.
  • Nutrition
    Some research indicates that community gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables (Bremer et al., 2003).
  • Exercise
    Gardening requires physical activity and helps improve overall physical health.
  • Mental health
    Interacting with plants and having access to nature help reduce stress and increase gardeners' sense of wellness and belonging. (Malakoff, 1995)
  • Community
    Community gardens foster a sense of community identity, ownership and stewardship. They provide a place for people of diverse backgrounds to interact and share cultural traditions.
  • Environment
    Gardens help reduce the heat-island effect in cities, increase biodiversity, reduce rain runoff, recycle local organic materials and reduce fossil fuel use from food transport.
  • Education
    All ages can acquire and share knowledge related to gardening, cooking, nutrition and health. Some gardens have programs that provide training in horticulture, business management, leadership development and market gardening.
  • Youth
    Gardens provide a safe place for youth to explore gardening, nature and community through formal programming or informal participation.
  • Income
    Produce may be sold or used to offset food purchases from the grocery store.
  • Crime prevention
    Gardens can help reduce crime.
  • Property values
    Some research indicates community gardens may increase surrounding property values (Whitmire).
Adapted from Multiple Benefits of Community Gardening, by Gardening Matters in Minneapolis.

MP906, new April 2009

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