It's not easy to find an activity that appeals to children of all ages and adults in one family, much less to an entire community. However, working and growing together while building a community garden can provide just that. Unearthing ways for family members and neighbors to work together towards a common, healthy goal is a priceless treasure.
These gardens are popular in urban areas and are a good way to spruce up spaces that might otherwise be filled with trash or remain unused. Additionally, urban gardens increase biodiversity in the area, which can attract bees and butterflies, and promote more natural spaces in an otherwise urbanized setting.
Community gardens often start out with a set of rules. Some might require membership while others might simply require you to agree to terms, like volunteering a certain number of hours or limiting work to a certain area of the garden. Once those guidelines are in place, community gardens are a great way to bring people together, build community and help the environment.
Daylight exposure has been shown to increase melatonin production leading to better sleep, revive your immune system, as well as boost mood and focus by increasing the body’s serotonin levels.
Getting kids involved with gardening is a fun and effective way to encourage healthy eating. Learn about different fruits and vegetables and enjoy cooking recipes with the produce from your harvest.
Humans have grown strong for thousands of years by cultivating the soil. When you work in the garden, you’re getting in touch with a kind of work that our ancestors have done for thousands of years. All the digging, planting and weeding required to build a garden is excellent physical exercise that will certainly burn substantial calories in the process. Yet, it also will strengthen your resolve and determination. Gardening is a labor of love and grit — it brings enjoyment but requires steady and patient work.
A community garden is an activity full of teachable moments for children and adults. Laboring in a garden gives a greater appreciation for all the hard work and patience required for healthy, sustainable food sources. The work not only benefits us but is something that bears fruit for others as well.
Some scientists now believe that a little dirt under your fingernails may even help. Experiments have demonstrated that M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria that thrives in soil, may increase levels of serotonin and reduce anxiety.
When you start a community garden, you will help create a green space in your neighborhood that people of all ages can enjoy. The garden can truly become a community-building activity and involve many hands from your neighborhood. The work brings people together to labor and reap the benefits as a community.
When people commit to grow a garden, they also create a community around their shared purpose. As you labor alongside others, you build something together. It doesn’t just benefit you — it can benefit your local community and neighborhood. And, when you create something together, you connect in deeper ways. You build memories and stories. Community gardens can help people become better neighbors.
Laura Jackson is a freelance writer based in Hilton Head, S.C. with her husband and two teenagers.