Spring is in the Air . . .and at Your Fingertips!



~By Shannon Halverson


community garden


With more attention focused on health and well-being these days, more and more often are we seeing community gardens spring up all around us.  People are learning the many physical and mental health benefits of growing their own food.

Some of the many benefits and reasons for joining a community garden are:

While living in an apartment or condo may be ideal for many people, gardening out of pots lined on balconies can lose its luster.  You may want to plant a wider variety and/or get creative with the arrangement.  Being in a restricted environment such as an apartment or condo can stifle this.

Another reason for getting involved is for the sun exposure.  Even owning your own home and having a large yard can prove challenging for some gardeners.  It may not be ideal for the certain herbs, fruits, and veggies you want to plant.  They require different exposures to sunlight for maximum growth and productivity, and a community garden can prove to be ideal for this.

Space can be an issue for apartment/condo dwellers as well as home owners.  The lack of space on a balcony is obvious, however homeowners run in to this issue as well.  Take in to account factors such as having pets, children and storage in your yard– all of a sudden what you thought was ample space in your yard for a garden is no more than a few square feet.

Community is a huge reason to get involved.  I have found that it is an excellent way to forge new relationships with the members of your community.  You are combining shared interests and a desire to experience something as a whole.  Even people that have their own gardens at home get involved as it fosters fellowship and builds character.  Many of these gardens also help to get other organizations involved for the better of the community such as the girl and boy scouts as well as donations from the garden to your local food bank or farmers market.

Being a gardening novice is yet another reason to get involved.  If you are like me then you very much love the benefits and ideas a community garden has to offer.  Sometimes brand new gardeners simply do not know where to start with planting, maintaining, and harvesting a garden by themselves and would welcome a helping hand from the more seasoned green-thumbs in their area. There is much to be shared and learned by all involved.  I will be going into my second year as a member of our local community garden.  I already feel so much more experienced going in this season and I am so excited for all I will learn.

One of the most endearing qualities of these gardens is the diversity of fruits, vegetables, and flowers they can provide.  Since the majority of community gardens are organic you will find a host of birds and butterflies that flock to these gardens to enjoy them right along with you.  It creates a beautiful and safe place for people to gather to picnic or to simply enjoy the atmosphere.

A very obvious reason to join is for that comfort and pride of growing your own food.  You know where the food came from and have all the choice in how you plant and maintain in regards to freshness and alternatives to pesticides.  While some people may want to buy organic for these reasons, it is not always affordable enough to the individual.  You have this choice being involved in a community garden as well as the opportunity to share and swap food with other members.

The last benefit I want to share is in regards to the nurturing and teaching of children.  This was a huge one for me.  With all the focus on technology in the world we live in, children are less and less exposed to nature and the outside world in general.  This is a great teaching tool for children to learn to grow and nurture something themselves.  They will take great pride in doing so and thus will grow and blossom in the most beautiful way.  As an extra bonus it provides children with a much greater willingness to try a variety of fruits and vegetables because they are watching it grow and have the pride and understanding that they had a part in it.

I hope this has sparked an interest in investigating what may available in your own area.  I believe you will enjoy the many health and mental benefits that a community garden has to offer.  We have had a long, cold, hard winter and it is time to get out and enjoy all that beautiful Mother Nature has to offer!

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