Many people become interested in growing crops and becoming a gardener at some point in their life.
But sadly, not everyone has the necessary means to materialize their desire to become a gardener.
Often, aspiring gardeners don’t have enough outdoor space for gardening, or they don’t know how to go about it. Either way, a person’s wish to harvest is bulldozed.
However, as the adage goes, there’s always a way; in this case, too, there is a way to overcome any hindrances that would prevent a person from fulfilling their desire to grow their own food.
And that is shared gardening. As the name suggests, shared gardening is a collaborative effort by either two people or an entire community to grow crops.
There are two ways in which a person can engage in community gardening; they can either offer their land to someone else to grow produce or use someone else’s property to grow crops.
In any case, two or more parties join hands to carry out gardening as a team.
It is not only an excellent way of allowing everyone to partake in farming but also a great way of strengthening relationships within a community or group of friends.
According to the National Gardening Association, at least 2 million people are growing food by combining their resources. They either provide the land for gardening or the expertise for it.
Shared gardening is a great way to increase crop production and quality without burdening only a handful of people.
The shared resources utilized to carry out communal gardening ensure that all the financial or physical burden doesn’t fall on one person.
One of the most convenient ways to do shared gardening is by patterning up with a neighbor or neighbors. Gardens shared across a property line make collaborative planting much easier and efficient.
Shared gardening can spring from a wide variety of gardens. Gardening enthusiasts can either use an empty plot of land or the backyard in a friend’s or relative’s home.
In metropolitan cities, people mostly use the space in someone’s backyard for their communal gardening ventures, because that allows continuous supervision over the growing crops.
Whether a person decides to use their neighbor’s home or a nearby plot of land to start a community garden, they should always try to build their urban farm in proximity to their place.
Doing so will allow them to take better care of their crops. Now that we have touched upon the basics of communal gardening let’s discuss every component of it in detail.
But before we do that, let’s go over all the types of a shared garden and its structural aspects.
What Does a Shared Garden Mean?
A shared garden or community garden is any space or area where two or more parties grow crops together.
It doesn’t have to be a proper garden, a piece of land can also be used for communal gardening and hence become a garden.
A shared garden can be someone’s private property or a communal space.
In the case of the former, interested gardeners will have to talk to the owner and come up with the terms and conditions of their joint venture.
However, in the case of the latter, interested parties will have to get an official permit if they need to or hash out the rental details for the land with a state representative.
Community gardens are not just beneficial for the members involved in the joint venture but also for the city.
When the people of a town build colorful, lush, teeming with swaying crops, gardens, they significantly add to its beauty.
Moreover, long term joint gardens can result in prolific plants that heavily bear fruits and flowers throughout the year, which can be used by the gardening partners or even sold at the farmer’s market.
In any case, a well-maintained community garden can be highly beneficial. Now, let’s take a look at the many benefits of a shared garden.
What Is the Purpose of a Community Garden?
A community garden can have multiple uses, which include:
Farming Space for Apartment Dwellers
People residing in apartments cannot enjoy urban gardening on a large scale, especially the ones living in shared apartments.
The most they can do is put some planters on the windowsill, and that’s it. The lack of opportunity to grow food deprives apartment dwellers of gratifying activity.
Community gardens give such people space and a chance to sow seeds and harvest crops to their heart’s content.
Making Gardening Possible for People with Inadequate Backyards
Just like people living in apartments, members of suburban neighborhoods can also face similar limitations when it comes to gardening if their backyards don’t provide ideal growing conditions for growing crops.
Some people may not have enough space in their yard, while others may not have fertile soil to support produce.
Shared gardens allow people settled in suburbs with deficient backyards to grow plants.
Even though the primary purpose of community gardening is not strengthening relationships between and within communities, but some towns and counties use shared gardening as a means of building friendships.
In closely-knitted localities, people love establishing shared gardens and enjoying the fruits of their hard work together during the harvest season.
Reduction in Food Miles
The term food miles denotes the mileage freights and trucks cover when transporting crops from one location to another.
With community gardening, more people get to grow their own food, which significantly reduces food miles.
And considering the high gasoline prices, reduction in food miles a lot of money for vendors.
Good for the Climate
Although shared gardens do not impact the climate on a large scale, they do have some positive effects on the microclimate of an area.
Eco-conscious residents use communal gardening to improve the atmospheric conditions of their localities.
Composting on Large Scale: Reduction in Neighborhood Waste
Extensive community gardens provide the inhabitants of a district an environment-friendly channel to process waste.
By using the neighborhood waste as compost, people get to carry out waste management effectively.
Improving Air and Soil Quality
Large scale gardening can improve the air and soil quality in a locality, creating more planting opportunities for the residents.
Community gardening is a widely prevalent practice worldwide. However, some countries engage in it more than others.
For instance, shared gardens are more famous in European countries than in the United States of America.
There are a lot of factors that affect the prevalence of community gardening in different cultures.
From having a proclivity towards farming to honoring one’s heritage, different nations can have a plethora of reasons to enjoy community farming more than others.
Here are some factors that are responsible for the immense popularity of shared gardens in Europe and the lack of them in America.
Why Are Community Gardens More Popular in Europe Than In the US?
According to a 2014 study conducted by Prof. Dr. Annette Voigt of the University Of Salzburg, Austria, and Mr. Russel Good of the University of Birmingham, urban community gardening is common in European cities for a bunch of reasons but primarily for wholesome food production.
The study gathered data on the motives behind collaborative urban gardening to analyze why European people like to invest time and money on the said practice.
The research findings reveal that people living in Europe are generally more concerned with their health and wellness, so they like to grow nutritious crops themselves to ensure quality.
Another factor that drives European people to engage in communal gardening is community involvement.
Most people living in European countries being active members of the community; therefore, they make arrangements to carry out group activities such as shared gardening.
Lastly, people in Europe enjoy spending time with nature. And community gardening gives them an ideal opportunity to connect with nature.
Although community gardening is not as popular in America as it is in Europe, it has helped Americans garden their way out of multiple economic crises.
After World War II and during the Great Depression, Americans hurtled towards shared gardening to beat the time’s financial crises.
And while several governments supported the communal activity, many Americans believed that the lack of support from the State is the reason behind the scarcity of shared gardens in America.
Furthermore, they think that people in America want to grow crops and take part in food production, but they need the State to facilitate it.
Whether the government officials are genuinely responsible for community gardening’s unpopularity or not, the bottom line is that citizens are missing out on a supremely beneficial practice that can do wonders for American society and the agriculture industry.
With that said, some communities have taken the initiative to grow their own food and help the environment.
But not many people are aware of those initiatives; therefore, don’t get to partake in shared gardening.
So the question arises, how does one look for community gardens in their city? There are multiple ways to go about it.
For starters, scouring the internet is one look for community gardens in your area. But you can also locate shared gardens by doing some legwork.
In this age of the internet, that may seem like too big of a task, but it will lead you to the most lush and healthy gardens in your locality.
How to Find a Community Garden In Your City?
Here are some surefire ways to trace the location of community gardens in your area:
Schools are public places and are often offered as a space for community gardening to interested individuals.
Therefore, going to local schools and inquiring can help you find a shared garden that will allow you to become an active gardener in the community.
Try College and Universities
Although middle schools and high schools tend to dedicate areas within their premises for community gardening, some local universities and colleges may also choose to do so.
Since younger children are more easily influenced, exposing them to community practices is an effective way to inculcate community spirit in them.
Therefore, schools have a higher probability of being vessels for community gardens.
However, in small towns, local universities and colleges may also allow community members to use their land for shared gardening.
One of the most commonly used spaces for community gardening is local parks.
They offer a shared area for everyone, giving excluded members of society a chance to also participate in community activities.
Therefore, checking parks should be on top of your list when looking for shared gardens in your city.
Look Up Organizations that Support Community Gardening
Many organizations such as the American community gardening association, local harvest, youth gardening from American Horticulture society are working to promote community gardening in urban settings.
Contact them to learn all about the shared gardens in your area. People working at these organizations have all the information about the community gardens in all localities so they can guide you properly.
Hunt Office Buildings
Office buildings with large terraces and yards are also a hotspot for establishing community gardens.
Check out the offices in your locality and ask the employees if they know about any other buildings that might be harboring a community garden.
Use Social Media
In this digital age, social media is the answer to every problem. While how productive or helpful most of those answers usually are is debatable, locating places is something that can be easily achieved using social media platforms.
Go on social networking websites and enter relevant keywords. You can also post a query on your feed, and hundreds of people will flock towards it with answers.
And even after going through all the trouble if you still can’t find a suitable community garden to become a part of, consider starting one on your own.
How to Start a Shared Garden In the US?
Starting a shared garden can seem like a daunting and challenging task, but it’s not.
With adequate research and planning, you can easily establish a community garden and get other active gardeners to be a part of your enterprise.
Here is a list of all the resources and steps needed to build a community garden in your locality.
Find Your Matches
Since communal gardening is all about teamwork and community spirit, you need to find like-minded individuals to work within your shared garden.
Go to community gardening websites such as Sustainable America and make a profile. It will match you with potential matches and send you notifications.
If you come across someone you’d like to connect with, you can message them and plan a meeting.
If you live in a relatively new neighborhood, you might not find a good match right away.
However, when someone who matches your requirements joins the network site, you’ll be notified, and then you can connect with them.
When we say like-minded people, we mean gardeners who tend to use similar planting methods as you and have similar views on various gardening practices.
Get to Know One Another
Once you have found your match, get to know them. To work efficiently as a team, all members need to trust one another and build a good rapport.
Therefore, you should frequently meet with fellow gardeners and try to understand them so that you don’t run into conflicts once you start gardening together.
Come Up with a Garden Sharing Plan
Chalking out a detailed plan for your joint gardening venture is a must for a smooth, conflict-free partnership.
An effective garden sharing plan will consist of your community garden’s location, the cost you will incur, how you will divide that cost amongst each other, the type of produce you will grow, and how the arrangement will work.
You can also add any terms that you deem essential.
Some questions that you must address in your communal gardening plan include:
- Where will your garden be located?
- What will you grow?
- Does your locality have desirable growing conditions for the kinds of crops you wi9
- sh to grow?
- When will the gardening be done?
- How do you plan to share the expenses?
- Will the garden be 100% organic?
- How will you share the produce?
- How will you arrange the tools?
- Do you plan to sell any of the produce?
- What will you do if anyone gets injured?
- Will you be composting? If so, how and which type of compost will you be using?
- How long will the partnership last?
- How will everyone communicate?
- Who will look after the various aspects of gardening, such as getting supplies, watering, adding compost, etc.?
Once you have a workable plan, you can move on to the next stage of building your shared garden.
When you are done with all the paperwork and planning, prepare to get down and dirty in the mud. Sow the seeds and wait for the harvest season.
And when that comes, go over your plan and evaluate what worked and what didn’t and tweak your gardening strategy accordingly.
Looking after a garden individually can be tough for a person.
But doing the same job as a group is much easier and less overwhelming.
Therefore, enjoy the perks of communal gardening or just gardening without all the stress of being the sole grower.
Moreover, you will also get a healthy harvest and might make lots of new friends!