How do I...?
Turning brownfields and vacant lots into safe community gardens and urban farms benefits the property and neighborhood by removing environmental hazards and improving poor quality, compacted, potentially contaminated soils and creating more biologically diverse habitats and healthy soil that can filter storm water. Growing vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs and spices can connect cultures and encourage healthy eating habits while teaching useful skills. Introducing communities to healthy local food varieties and choices can help improve public health and the environment. In addition, it provides a place to provide additional benefits such as:
Improve Local Skills
Community members can learn valuable skills in planning, project management, agriculture, horticulture, and environmental science. Growing food for local or farmer's markets can also teach business skills and provide additional income.
Protect the Environment
Using abandoned and vacant urban properties to develop safe community gardens or agriculture can reduce a neighborhood’s wastes by reusing compostable waste to improve soil and reducing storm water runoff.
Show Real Economic Benefits
Researcher studies of creating community gardens in New York, NY shows that residential property values increased by as much as 9.5% in five years in low-income neighborhoods. Another study, conducted in the New Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA, showed that the improvement of vacant lots increased the residential property value of the neighborhood by 30%.
Promote Health and Physical Activity
Digging, moving soils, adding amendments, mixing, building, weeding, raking, pruning, watering, mulching, composting and harvesting are all potential activities needed to prepare and maintain a garden. Community gardens allow residents to meet, plan and build and improve an area through shared efforts. Gardening can also increase outdoor physical activity for urban residents, two-thirds of whom do not currently have access to a local park or open space for recreation.
Grow Community Connections
Community gardens, farmers markets and greenspace create beautiful benefits for neighborhoods by providing greenspace and habitat, gathering places, and new economic opportunities and social interactions.
Teach a New Generation
Community and school gardens can provide an active learning environment, and the satisfaction of producing something of value, fresh vegetables and fruits to eat. It also provides new ways to learn about nature, environmental science, math, nutrition and business, as well as a place for after school activity, community involvement, and civic pride. Gardens also provide green space and new ways to interact with the natural environment.
Create an Oasis in Food Desserts
Urban agriculture can improve access to fresh, healthy foods. It is estimated that 11.5 million low-income people live in low-income areas at least 1 mile from a supermarket. In many cases, while only canned or packaged material may be available from small grocers and convenience stores that sell lower quality foods at higher prices.