If you have the desire to grow vegetables or flowers, but don’t know how to get started, why not join a Community Garden? Nearly every city has at least one, popping up guerilla style on vacant lots in South Los Angeles (see an excellent TED talk about this), well planned spaces in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, and wide open spaces in the Midwest.
Community Gardening is a great way to get started if you’re a little intimidated about learning how to garden. With a community garden, you’ll have responsibility for a small plot, but more importantly, you’ll be able to swap information with and learn from fellow gardeners, and oh how we love to share what we do. Some communities also offer classes and camps. All you really need is a little spare time, the desire to learn and no fear of getting your hands dirty. The rewards of eating the food you grow with your own labor or the joy of seeing cut flowers you nurtured from seed can’t be described, only experienced.
Most community gardens are located in urban areas, and many are created for children like those designed by Penn State Master Gardeners. In many cases, the gardens provide fresh food for neighborhoods in food deserts, but they also create an appreciation for the outdoors, encourage a healthy lifestyle, provide direction for at-risk youth, and strengthen ties within the community. And if we really pay attention, gardening teaches us about botany, biology, soil science, horticulture, water conservation, and patience.
To find a community garden near you, visit the national website of community garden.org.