Sustainable Living Choices on the Fraser Coast

Community Gardens – Sustainable Living in an Urban Environment

By Ewa Bekiesch – Permaculture Designer, Educator and Sustainable Living Consultant

website: www.permaculturehaven.com email: permaculturehaven@gmail.com

Homegrown is best! We all know that. I was talking about the benefits of backyard gardening in the Issue #5. Community gardening is another great way of growing healthy food and connecting with others.Community gardens are public places where people come together to grow food.

This is a welcome, but not new, trend within an urban environment. “Community gardens have a long history dating back as far 100BC in the UK and the small Celtic fields of Lands End, Cornwall, which are still in use today….In Australia the development of community gardens was initiated in Victoria in the mid to late 1970s.” (Thompson et al.)

Community gardens provide many opportunities, improve the quality of urban environment and can help reduce some of the problems that are characteristic for urban areas. Growing food within a community is beneficial in many ways.

Health benefits

Gardening is a great way to stay active. It contributes to physical and mental health. It promotes enjoyment, recreation and exercise. Connecting with nature helps reduce stress and provides relaxation. Naturally grown, healthy food delivers maximum flavor, freshness and nutritional value. It improves the immune system and well-being.

Social benefits

Community gardens are bringing people together. Regular meetings reduce social isolation and help connecting with others. They give the chance to meet neighbours and make friends with people coming from different cultural backgrounds. Growing and sharing food together, celebrating and learning from each other may help shaping the character of the community and improve the lifestyle.

Environmental benefits

Community gardens have positive impact on the environment. Biodiversity in the garden benefits the wildlife, improves soil and air quality. Composting systems help reduce waste and eliminate the need of buying fertiliser. Growing food locally saves energy by reducing long distance food transport and packaging.

Economical benefits

Growing food can save lots of money which can be spent somewhere else. Community gardens can help low-income neighbours to grow and access healthy food, and improve food security within the community. Sharing, swapping and selling seeds, cuttings and excess produce within the community and with other gardeners eliminates the need to buy new planting materials.

Educational benefits

Community gardens provide an amazing opportunity to learn and share knowledge about gardening, how to grow healthy food and how to turn garden waste into compost. Getting to know and try many unusual new varieties of fruit and vegetables and learning about storing and preserving foods are some of many skills which can be learned and shared within the community.

Do you like the idea of community gardening? Check your local council website or give them a call and ask about community gardens in your area. No community garden in the neighbourhood? Consider creating one! Contact your local councillor to discuss. There might be a public place nearby which can be transformed into a beautiful edible landscape with lots of opportunities! I just recently had the pleasure to create a design for the “Rainbow Gully Community Commons” Community Gardens at the Fraser Coast. Check my website for more info about this and other projects I recently finished.

References:

Susan Thompson et al., The Role of Community Gardens in Sustaining Healthy Communities, Faculty of the Built Environment, UNSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia

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