Recently, I’ve read and listened to stories about several community gardens. You see,I have been longing to share my gardening skills and work with my church to begin a community garden. In the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that people define the term in various ways, and sadly, sometimes leave out the concept of “community.”
So what is a community garden and how does it serve people and become an instrument for community development? In defining it for some folks at my church, here’s how I described it:
- It’s a place that includes anyone who is committed to being there. No one is excluded based on age, ability, faith (or nonfaith), socioeconomic status, etc.
- It involves people’s gifts and graces. People get involved when they feel good about what they have to offer a project.
- It’s not about the “privileged” providing outreach to the “marginalized.” It’s about people working together side by side to raise healthy food and partake of it together. It’s about understanding and appreciating differences.
- It’s not about keeping people out; rather, it’s about inviting people in. If folks come pick veggies on the weekends when no one’s here, the response we have to that says a lot about who we are as human beings and people of faith.
- It’s learning about sustainable living and ways individuals can work collectively to make an impact on our environment.
- It’s about engaging in new skills, listening to each other, and teaching one another.
Most importantly, it’s about being in community with those around you. These gardens build community by connecting people in planning, growing, harvesting and preparing the food that has been raised. Digging in the dirt is the easy part. It’s cultivating relationships with those around you that truly makes it a “community garden.”