No matter how much you may read, educate yourself and try to get involved with sustainable agriculture, it can still feel very abstract without the opportunity to actually experience it. Community gardens are a great way to practice these sustainable techniques as well as build awareness in your area.
One great example of a community garden can be found with the nonprofit Growing Gardens, based in Boulder, Colorado. It is dedicated to raising awareness and providing opportunities for people to participate in urban agricultural programs.
Their program Hawthorn Community Gardens allows people in the community to participate and receive a share of the harvest. It is a great way to build community because members are invested and stand to benefit in a variety of ways.
Located within the city limits, the land was donated to the organization to be turned into an urban agriculture cooperative rather than be developed. Because of its location, the land is highly accessible to hundreds of people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods and use it. In fact, it has become the main draw to the area for a number of residents who specifically wanted to get involved in the program.
The site is divided into plots that community members can plant and tend to throughout the season, from planting to harvesting. Participants can share land, seed, produce, or just knowledge.
In addition to fostering community development, Growing Gardens provides educational opportunities and ways to serve those in need. They have numerous educational programs about agricultural techniques and sustainable practices, as well as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which allows subscribers to pay a yearly fee for a share of the crops grown by members.
Not only do members and participants benefit, they serve others in the community. One of the programs at Growing Gardens involves bringing at-risk inner-city youth to the gardens and offering them work and social support. Causes may vary, but in general community gardens can be very profitable and effective ways to give back.
Start your own community garden!
It doesn’t take much to start a community garden; all you need is some land to share, even a spot on your own property, and people to farm it with. It doesn’t have to be a large operation or an organized program like with Growing Gardens, but it can simply be a way to learn sustainable methods and understand agriculture personally. Seeds and materials are cheap, so even small plots can be very profitable, allowing room to purpose your garden in support of a cause.
Try starting a garden with your neighbors to raise support and awareness for programs and organizations that work to alleviate poverty through sustainable agriculture methods. One such organization is our alliance partner ECHO, which works to equip impoverished people worldwide to support themselves. Gardening for yourself is a great way to understand the methods they use and connect with the issue personally.
Photo: “High Point community garden.” Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.