It's remarkable what can be accomplished when folks from every walk of life work together with a common purpose. Throughout the country, community gardens are turning up in neighborhoods and office parks, around places of worship and school campuses. These plots are planted by local people, who work together to grow their own food.
Most community gardens regularly provide a portion of their harvests to charitable organizations, food banks, and individuals who might not otherwise have fresh produce. Benefits of community gardening abound for those who organize, cultivate and harvest the garden.
I recently visited Seminole Heights Community Garden, which is located on a quiet, bungalow-lined street in the heart of a historic neighborhood of Tampa, Florida. A resident donated two lots for the purpose of planting an organic community garden. Now this land yields healthy vegetables cultivated by organic methods only.
As soon as I walked through the entry gate, I felt worlds away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Greeted by a familiar peace that gardens provide, I was instantly at home.
Upon entering you see rain barrels, water-catches, mulch piles, compost bins, bamboo tepees and worm bins. Each plays a vital role, and together they keep this garden flourishing and organic. Children paint row markers and receive hands-on education while working in the garden. And then there are the helpful, friendly gardeners!
To thrive, this garden - as with all community gardens - depends on donations, sponsorships, volunteers and members. This widespread participation energizes the collective endeavor, as everyone labors side by side from the early days of soil preparation to final harvest.
Local restaurants donate organic kitchen scraps for composting; tree services deposit truckloads of free mulch; horse farms contribute manure; and families involve their children in the entire process.
A few advantages to forming and participating in a community garden include hands-on education, lessons in sustainable living, relief from stress, social relationships, and tasty, healthy food to eat.