Updated: Jun 17, 2021
Shared gardens are not just a place to find a plot to grow food or flowers. Across the country, community gardens share the gardening experience, inspiring healing, help, and hope. Here are four to inspire you.
By KELLY ROBERSON, MARTY ROSS,
JULIE A. MARTENS, and ADAM LEVINE
Photography by KINDRA CLINEFF, BOB STEFKO,and JAY WILDE GARDENING for HEALTH
GARDENING for HEALTH
Janet Tumer’s formative years, her mom tended several community garden plots, supplementing a backyard garden with extra square footage to plant vegetables and anything else she wanted to preserve. So when grown-up Janelle found herself with a sun-starved backyard, she and her family turned to the Franklin Community Garden in Des Moines to tend a harvestable plot.
From Hawaii to Nova Scotia, gardeners in the United States and Canada plant and harvest from thousands of community gardens, In Lowa, where Janelle lives, there is no shortage of fields of corn and soybeans, But to garden in a small, public space—to claim a few feet for lettuce, tomatoes, and carrob—is one way to join in the experience of gardening with others, to lean tips, share in the bounty, and grow friendships. For Janelle, the small yearly fee she pays to be part of the garden is worth it, “T get a season's worth of growing tine. as well as communal tools in a shed, mulch, a fence, water, and a compost dumpster,” she says. “Pin always amazed to see the variety of things planted in the gardens and how they were cared for.”
A similar experience takes place in the Providence, Rhode Island, Southside Community Land ‘Trust gardens, whieh took root in 1981 and today hosts gardeners from many nations including Liberia, che Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Guatemala, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. Many Latins and Black gardeners are also growing food. A “Community yardening creates strang bonds among people, The connections are long-lasting and meaningful,” executive director Margarete DeVos says. “And they make our communities stronger and more cohesive despite our differences in backgrounds and perspectives.”
Other shared gardening experiences develop out of the need to help people who have undergone physical or emotional pain or trauma to find relief—even joy—in nature and in nurturing garden beds, taking yoga classes, and having 3 quiet space to meditate, The gardens at Boulder Crest Foundation, with locations in Virginia and Arizona, are healing spaces thac offer programs to help veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome find peace and reconnect with loved ones. During retreats, the program teams leads participants through the garden, but the veterans, their spouses. and their children are also free to discover the Howers, birds, butterflies, bees, and fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs on their own, “When my husband was deployed, | found gardening to be very therapeutic. Our hope is that this garden will help the thousands of people that visit Boulder Crest.” cofounder Julia Falke says. ‘The garden “helped me reawaken my heart,” says Randal Copeland, an Anny vet who served in Iraq. “It reminded me that Iam part of nature.” Another community garden opportunity, this one located a couple miles west of the Chicago.
FIND A GARDEN
Community gardening options are as varied as the people who use them. If you're not able to grow your own food because of space or time limitations but want to support local gardeners, try membership in a CSA. Master Gardener programs sponsored by county extension offices help build gardening skills and include 3 volunteer element. Community gardens like Growing Solutions Farm, left, are funded and run by all sorts of government and nonprofit organizations. Healing gardens may be private or public. To find a community option, start with your parks department; they may be able ta point you to nearby resources.