While the world continues to count the loss of lives caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also considering the wider ramifications that the pandemic has caused to every aspect of the global economy, all over the world and pockets of fundamental change are starting to take hold.
Lockdown has it seems, created a ‘green revolution’ as COVID-19 has only served to highlight the fragility and futility of our globalised food system that has left millions of people food poor.
Our paved driveways and decked lawns are being ripped up and planted, we are in the midst of a ‘grow your own’ movement that can only have positive benefits for mankind.
Demand for seeds has rocketed with online sales reaching record highs and many companies reporting that demand has outstripped supply. Whilst the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK for example has recorded spikes on many of its website pages that provide practical gardening advice.
In addition to the backyard and allotment gardener is the growth of community gardens that are taking shape in towns and cities around the world. These community gardens are maintained by local people to benefit local people and are a cause for celebration.
These urban gardens are not just about growing fresh, local food that is highly nutritious and affordable, these urban spaces are about community, bringing people together in a truly positive, life-affirming way.
In many ways, the community garden signals a return to a forgotten time, a bygone age – one where we knew our neighbours, where we worked locally, where we had daily conversations, where we shared what we had and where we helped each other through thick and thin.
The community garden not only symbolises hope, but they are also a catalyst for change.
Transforming often dysfunctional, unused vacant spaces to address many socio-economic problems, healing often deep-rooted insecurities to inspire positive change and cultivate an ethos of caring and sharing. Being truly intergenerational, the community gardens can work to regenerate entire neighbourhoods and are good for our health and wellbeing too, having far-reaching, long-term and positive effects on society as a whole.
So, if you have discovered a piece of unused or derelict land in your neighbourhood and you want to make a positive contribution to your community, why not consider starting a community garden?
Here’s our simple checklist to help you start your community garden
- Identify who owns the land – as you will need the landowner’s approval. Also make sure you get it in writing that they know what the land is going to be used for, by whom and for how long.
- Before you start preparing the land or enlisting any volunteers, it is worthwhile…
- Getting any insurance you might need in place. In the UK for example it would be advisable to have public liability insurance as accidents do happen.
- Planning. Working out who your garden will serve and what its purpose is will really help you to succeed.
- Naming and setting up an organisation or co-operative will ensure that you and your members will work together.
- Plan, design and set up – make a rough plan or call in a favour so that you can begin to visualise your space. Don’t be afraid to ask the community for their input too.
- Get your hands dirty – let the fun begin as you start the rewarding task of clearing the land.
- Design – now that you have cleared the land it is time to consider how you can make the best use of the available space so that you and your community can reap its rewards. Don’t forget to factor in storage space for tools, a place to compost and allocating space where you can bring people together – be it a shed, an outside seating area, a raised bed or even an underground bunker. And if you live in an area where wild animals might visit, then make sure you include fencing to keep them out, rather than anything that will harm them.
- Don’t forget – it’s a community garden and you can look to the community to help you fund your project. Apply to your local authority or town council and you could, even look to host fundraisers too!
- Enjoy – after all a community garden is about bringing people together.