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Environmental Benefits of Community Gardens

Community gardens have countless benefits including improved mental health, shared green spaces, and a sense of community in local areas. In this article, we’ll be talking about the environmental benefits of community gardens.

A community garden laid out in raised beds.

What is a Community Garden?

Community gardens are spaces open to – you guessed it – the community, allowing people to come together to cultivate an outdoor space. They may focus on growing food, ornamental plants, or a mixture of both. Some may be divided into individual plots for people to work on, while some may be entirely cooperative with everybody working together on the same garden.

Boosting Biodiversity

A community garden in a built-up area is the perfect way of boosting biodiversity. While most of a town or city is covered in concrete, these spaces allow for different species of plants, animals, and insects to thrive. This works especially well when growing a mixture of food and ornamental plants. Growing a hedgerow along the edge of the garden, for example, is a great way to provide food and shelter to lots of animals and insects. Click here to read our article about growing your own hedgerow.

When encouraging visits from animals and insects, don’t forget to provide some protection for any fruits and vegetables you’re growing. You may want a separate bit of space for wildflowers and other plants that will support pollinators, allowing them access to nectar and pollen while protecting your other plants from pests.

A bee pollinating a purple flower.

Improving Air and Soil Quality

Another common environmental issue in built-up areas is poor air and soil quality. Properly caring for soil in order to grow healthy plants and crops will, in turn, improve the health of the soil. This can mean improved soil structure, nutrients, organic matter, and soil biodiversity. Soil health is a very important part of cultivating healthy, balanced ecosystems.

Air quality can also be improved by the running of a community garden. Trees and plants are excellent at absorbing pollutants through respiration, as well as absorbing carbon dioxide. Growing more plants in urban areas is an environmentally friendly way to start improving air quality.

Promoting Sustainable Agriculture

The average person won’t know much about where their produce is coming from. Community gardens tend to grow food in much more sustainable ways than larger operations, allowing people to get a close up look at how sustainable agriculture can be. A lot of community gardens will also run lessons and workshops to educate people about sustainable agriculture, which can have a wider impact on local communities and how they view food production.

Increasing Food Security

Growing food locally and making it available to your community is not only a great way to build local friendships, but it also helps to improve food security for those who may be struggling. Fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t always cheap, so having some available at a lower cost (or for free!) is an excellent way to improve food security in your area and promote healthy eating. Click here for some in depth guides to growing your own food.

Reducing Food Miles

In the UK, we are fortunate to have most of our imported food transported by boats rather than planes. This has a big impact on emissions as planes transporting food produces around 47 times more greenhouse gases than boats. However, once the food is actually in the UK, transporting it throughout the country produces around 109 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, accounting for 26% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions. This doesn’t even include people driving to shops for their food!

Growing food in community gardens and making it available to the local area is an incredibly effective way of reducing food miles. Fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables can be made available to local communities without being imported or driven around the UK before getting to them.

Fresh vegetables being harvested from a community garden.

Reducing Water Runoff and Conserving Water

Gardens in urban environments can be very effective in reducing water runoff and flooding. As well as rainwater naturally absorbing into the exposed earth, many community gardens have measures in place to absorb and collect rainwater. For example, some have trenches lined with vegetation that absorb water and prevent it from flooding the area. There are also other methods – such as water butts – commonly used to collect rainwater from the area and reuse it on the plants, not only reducing water runoff but also conserving water.

Influencing the Community

People who attend and care for these community gardens will learn so much about these benefits such as water conservation and sustainable land use. They may then be reflected in their homes, businesses, and other areas of life. If community gardens became very commonplace, they could have a huge impact on general environmental health.

Conclusion

As well as the many social benefits of community gardens, they also have an incredible impact on the environment. Click here for more articles about gardening for the environment.

Two people working on a community garden.

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Updated on April 19, 2024

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