Food gardens provide fresh produce and plants as well as satisfying exercise, neighborhood improvement, sense of community and connection to the environment. Food gardens are a great way to improve a vacant lot as well as provide a place for your community or neighborhood to grow together. Gardens require a lot of energy and time to make them successful. It is important to make sure you have community involvement before taking on such a large project. If you are not able to get your neighbors involved start small and make your garden bigger as time goes on.
Community gardens are a popular way of transforming vacant lots. They serve a clear purpose of providing local food to the community, bring lots of neighbors together, and look great! At the same time, community gardens take more time, funding, and coordination than any other design for vacant lots. If you’re willing to take on that challenge, then read on!
Planning for and maintaining a community garden is a rewarding but complicated task. Grow Pittsburgh, an organization that supports urban agriculture in and around Pittsburgh, has outlined the steps necessary to preparing and implementing a successful community garden. Check out their Community Garden Guide for more detailed information on the steps listed below.
- Creating a Vision
- Publicity and Outreach
- Getting Organized
- Finding a Suitable Lot
- Building Partnerships
- Building and Growing the Garden
Suitability and Considerations
To create a food garden, the qualities of the vacant lot being used will have to be considered. Check out the lot assessment page page to see how different aspects of the lot will affect how you should arrange your food garden.
Size, sunlight, access to water, visibility and soil quality are all important characteristics when selecting a lot for this type of project. In addition, due to the large investment required, it is recommended to only pursue this project when there is an assurance of long-term access to the land.
It can be helpful to speak with those who have experience with community gardens before starting your own. For a full list of active community gardens in the City of Pittsburgh and stewards of those gardens, visit Grow Pittsburgh’s map of community food gardens.
- Contribute to users’ health through increased fresh vegetable consumption
- Community food security and access
- Provide a venue for exercise
- Increased community participation
- Sharing of knowledge and experience with neighbors
- Active communities often experience less crime and vandalism
- Garden beds – nontreated wood