In the first post of this series, we talked about growing your own garden and the benefits it can bring your life. But what if you don’t have a backyard? What if you live in an apartment building, or a condo? Will there is a solution for you; community gardens. A community garden is an area that people share, and build their own gardens within. They’re usually sectioned off into small plots where everyone is free to grow the crops of their choice. There are many many benefits to this option, but I want to talk about the two biggest: assistance in building the garden of your dreams, and the community aspect that all of these people together create.
So if you don’t know a lot about gardening, chances are other members of the community garden do. They are more than willing to help you get started and to give you all the advice you need in your new venture. They know what grows well in that particular soil, and what doesn’t as well as the proper way to space your plants if your area is limited. Most community gardens share tools, which will save you money in rentals, or the aggravation of having to borrow supplies from your neighbor. A good strategy would be to find out what vegetables your neighbors are growing, and then grow different ones. That way you can trade and have more of a variety available to you.
If you’re new to this activity, you may normally go to your local Home Depot or Lowe’s to buy your seeds etc., but your fellow farmers may know of better places to buy seeds and fertilizer. There are farm supply stores that deal in all organic material, and will give you a healthier yield. When I mean all organic, I’m talking about the absence of chemicals or hormones in the seats in soil. Plus the benefit of being able to support a smaller vendor vs a big box store.
The second big aspect of community gardening, is the social setting. You will be surrounded by like minded individuals who you can share pleasant conversation with while you work. You get to meet all sorts of new people and make new friends. I’ve actually met two of my close friends this way, where are paths normally would not have crossed otherwise. This sense of community also develops into many evening social activities. When it starts to get dark people want to continue to hang out and talk, and will often spill out into coffee shops or local bars afterwards.
There are even areas that have activities within the garden. In South Philadelphia, there is a group that has multiple social events throughout the month. Most revolve around cooking, while others are more of an entertainment function. Local drum instructor, Jon Kois brings all of his students in for a drum circle once a month. They take beginner drum lessons from him, and this gives them an opportunity to all hang out together. Other people bring guitars or horns, and turns into quite a party. Many people passing on the street, will stop and listen to the music and be attracted to this kind of activity.
So if you think about it, community gardens can actually be better than traditional gardens. They give you the same benefit of healthy eating with all the advantages of having experts all around you. And when you’re done with your work, you can enjoy the company of your fellow growers and develop long lasting friendships.