In previous articles I’ve covered “alternative” natural food sourcing and production arrangements such as CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) and natural food cooperatives.
Another concept gaining popularity is community food gardens.
A community food garden is a piece of land, usually rented from local government, collectively worked by a group of people who share the harvest. It differs a little from the UK allotment concept in that allotments are usually rented out to individuals.
Community food gardens offer individuals a way of growing a portion of their own food in a collaborative environment, benefiting from the experience of other members. Community food gardens can provide greater food security along with a reduction in the food mile impact of participants’ diets. Quite a few of these groups also observe environmentally friendly methods of food production – anything from using heritage or heirloom seeds or natural fertilizers, to full blown organic gardening.
Community gardens can also help build more closely knit neighborhoods. According to Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network, research in 2005 by Dr Bruce Judd and Dr Rob Samuels of the AHURI UNSW-UWS Research Centre found that community food gardening, as part of a community development strategy, was effective in reducing the incidence of crime on housing estates.
Finding community food gardens
The following are some online resources in various regions:
USA and Canada
In the USA, community food gardens are commonly known as food banks. There’s a good listing of organisations at Community Garden.
Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network is a one stop shop for information about where to find community food gardens and also provides a stack of information on how to go about setting one up.
I had a great deal of trouble finding a single resource listing organisations, so your best bet would be to run a search like this on Google:
community food garden region
.. where “region” is the name of your town or suburb.
If you’re unable to find a community food garden in your area, consider setting one up of your own. Your local council may help out by providing land, expertise or small grants to buy tools and equipment. The Australian resource listed above has a stack of information that may be able to assist you in putting together a proposal, regardless of which country you are in.
Are you involved with a community food garden? What has been your experience of the concept?