Recently I took a trip back to my home state of West Virginia. I took a short trip back to the neighborhood where I grew up, a couple of blocks away there was a large community garden. Where people could come to both plant and harvest local produce. These community gardens provide many benefits to the local community. Food in the United States travels an average of 1,300 miles and uses gallons of gasoline in the process. Producing food locally reduces greenhouse gas emissions related to the transportation of food. In some cases up to fifty percent of transported food can be lost due to spoilage, food grown locally can greatly reduce food waste.
There is also an added economic benefit community gardens have been shown to increase property value in their respective areas. Can add as much as $9,000 in added city tax money. Developing and maintaining these gardens areas is much easier and less expensive than parkland due in part to the fact that gardens do not require much land and the upkeep is done by the people who grow food in the area. these gardens have even been shown to attract small businesses to the area, which is a boon to low-income areas. Many community gardens also provide opportunities for students and low-income families. For example, students at the local middle and high school classes will occasionally take trips there for horticulture and environmental related classes. And Families can save anywhere from 75 to 380 dollars on food costs. Furthermore, these gardens help to provide access to healthy foods in low-income families where good produce and healthy food options can be hard to come by. People who garden are also more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables than people who do not.
Eating local produce can also be a much healthier option as the people who eat them are not ingesting chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Local produce can also be eaten fresh without the use of preservatives used in food that is transported. Another health benefit is that community gardens have been shown to improve mental health as well, improving upon mental fatigue as well as life satisfaction. Needless to say, these gardens are also aesthetically pleasing and add an air of beauty to the local area. As mentioned before they are also a great learning place for students, helping to teach about environmental responsibility and stewardship.
Community gardens provide an array of environmental, economic, as well as health benefits. It seems that more and more communities are choosing to move in this direction. Not to mention the memories that it can provide, it’s been quite sometime that my family has been there to make use of the garden. But I’ll always remember those evenings when my mother and I would walk down to the garden and collect our produce, anything from green beans to squash. When I was very little she would always say to me “Look, honey, you grew that.” Oh, the wonderful joys of community gardens.