BORED BY BOOK CLUBS? START A COMMUNITY GARDEN!

I drive by my “city” garden every day on my way to & from work. years ago, I would take daily walks or bike rides by & watch people working, each in their little patch of land but all connected. I’ve always wondered, how do these community gardens get started?

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turns out, the first community gardens started in Detroit in the 1890s to provide land, work & better nutrition to unemployed citizens & their families during a difficult economic time. in my community of Northampton, MA (check it out!), a group of people got together & divided up an overgrown kitchen garden on the grounds of an abandoned psychiatric hospital. talk about repurposed land!

communitygarden.org estimates there are more than 18,000 community gardens in the U.S. and Canada! In Northampton, any resident can claim their own 20 x 20 plot of land with access to water, tools & plenty of homemade organic fertilizer for just $22 a year. gardeners are encouraged to plant a mix of flowers & vegetables for maximum biodiversity, encouraging a variety of birds, bugs & of course that environmental superhero, the honeybee.

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I think it’s an awesome idea to have shared land available to people who might not have the space at home, or who want to socialize while they commune with the earth. dozens of studies (like the ones in this communitygardens.com overview) have shown that community gardens have individual & city-wide benefits: they reduce crime, encourage self-reliance, beautify neighborhoods, provide low-cost food for families, improve psychological health for everyone from busy office workers to kids with ADHD & offer opportunities for exercise in our ever “widening” 😉 culture.

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I think gardening is especially great for kids—these days, so many grow up never knowing the taste of a non-GMO carrot or a tomato straight from the garden, & their idea of vegetables is a heap of mushy squares on a cafeteria tray. but truly fresh produce is so much more!

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check out this HowStuffWorks tutorial for practical tips on how to get a community garden started in your own hometown, or the American Community Gardening Association for an in-depth 2-day workshop.

what a rewarding way to beautify your city or town & connect with like-minded neighbors you never knew you had. 🙂 so start or join one today & share your pics, videos & inspiring  stories!

xo

—Suki

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