Growing Community I: What, Why & How?

For anyone interested in gardens as a context for fostering learning and interaction, the next three posts are guaranteed to provide you with inspiration and practical resources. [Editor’s note: Go to www.communitiesknow.com for installments II and III in Laura’s series on community gardens.]

 

What are community gardens and where can they exist?

As new sprouts push their way through the ground in my corner of the world, I increasingly turn my attention to the ways in which communities interact in the environments they create. Some of the most exciting sites for communities to come together in are community gardens, allotment gardens, and ecology parks. Gardening together fosters communication and learning. It is also extremely versatile, existing in places such as on the grounds of schools, universities, public parks, government buildings, hospitals and high rises. Given the rich history of community gardening, there is also a wealth of resources available to assist those hoping to develop a garden in their own learning communities.

 

What’s so great about gardens?

 

  • They can happen almost anywhere – schools, universities, parks, cul-de-sacs, vacant lots, roof tops, old age homes, greenhouses
  • They provide a common place for people to come together, learn from each other, and learn about one another
  • They push us to take part in collective decision-making, skills sharing, and conflict resolution
  • They provide physical exercise and spaces for relaxation
  • They can provide food resources
  • They provide spaces for insects and other animal life
  • They aid us in experiencing and learning about our natural world
  • They provide a sense of accomplishment
  • They can be the starting point for additional community-focused initiatives such as shared meals, outdoor kitchens, and parks
  • In institutional settings, they provide an easily accessible opportunity to get outside. In the case of schools, gardens tie in with all curriculum areas and, more importantly, promote social learning and interaction.

 

How can I start & sustain a community garden?

Community gardening comes with challenges (which is, really, part of the point!). It is useful to gain inspiration from the actions of those who have come together on previous initiatives, and to learn from their wisdom. Fortunately, there are many fantastic resources that make starting and sustaining a community garden much easier…

Re-posted by permission from CommunitiesKnow.com

Photos: Samuel Mann 

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About the Lead Author

Laura Fulton
Laura Fulton is an educator who is passionate about communities in all forms. She has lived, worked and volunteered on four continents. Laura has taught learners from elementary children to adults. She has worked primarily in schools but has also fostered learning on archaeological sites, in museums and through NGOS. In addition, Laura has extensive experience in educational and community leadership; residential and outdoor education; and the design, development, evaluation and implementation of programs and curriculum. Communitiesknow allows Laura to combine her experiences with school communities with her experiences with place-based communities. Through this blog, Laura is nurturing a conversation about our capacity to create contexts and conditions that enhance community learning and health. Email Laura at communitiesknow@gmail.com

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