This post is about community gardeners and a personal account of what the benefits are of community gardens. My older sister, Jessica, by definition is polished. Her clothes have always matched fashionably, make up refined and classic, she knows designers by name, and can spot a fashion faux pas from a mile away. When we were little, we shared a room and I would stow away live crickets under the sheets of my bed to keep for later much to Jessica’s horror she would find them when tidying up our space. We fought vehemently over order and cleanliness. I would track in bugs and dirt, and she would tirelessly clean up after me.
So, I was rather surprised and excited when she told me her decision to join a community garden in Austin, Texas. However, I should state she is no overly high maintenance princess and never has been.
I just had this incorrect idea that only experts get involved in community gardens.
She’s never struck me as the typical community gardener I’ve met along the way or incorrectly imagined how a gardener should be. I always imagined, the type of Gardener who sleeps with dirt caked under their nails, wears worn down wide brimmed hats, and follows the cycles of the moon. I think for many of us, we might have stereotypes of farmers and community gardeners that is inaccurate.
The gardens are brimming with diversity from hippies to professionals and beginners to expert growers. Women who trade in pencil skirts for shovels and everything in between.
Over the recent months Jess has sent me pictures of her crops and the magical community garden she labors in with Jay, her fiance, and their pup, Birdie. She has successfully redefined for me the image of modern community gardeners.
She’s chic, works full-time, takes nursing classes, and now plays in the dirt. She remains an inspiration to me for a multitude of reasons and now I hope she becomes an inspiration to others that aren’t sure if they fit in the typical community gardener profile but want to learn how to grow their own food.
Now, here is Jessica’s response to the question, “What are the benefits of community gardening?”
Jess: “Social Bonding & Overall Health– community gardens provide a learning center from those who are usually gardening experts; a way of making friends who are contributing to bettering the community. A variety people can be found in community gardens, diversity is great for conversation, talk to people outside of your friend circle. Get outside and met new people. We got to know the fantastic people in our own community.”
Jess: “Better food- There is a flood of information on the internet about pesticides in our foods. Why not just try and grow your own food and remove the pesticides from the food source? There is an extensive amount of research on why growing your own food is even cheaper overall.”
Jess: “There are several articles online about food allergies being linked to pesticides. Doctors don’t know why the rates of food allergies is increasing but several studies are coming out with information about a link between food allergies and pesticides; if you don’t believe me then it is worth a google search. We cannot stop how the food industry chooses to mass produce food, but we can, in small communities, help each other becomes less dependent on food standards we may not agree with. I encourage everyone to check out their local community gardens and if there aren’t any around you available maybe even starting one.”
If you are wondering about the steps and funding on how to start a community garden here are some useful links:
Steps/Funding to Start a Community Garden