Unknown Benefits

Believe it or not, community gardens are not just for people who love to spend hours kneeling on the ground and digging in the dirt! Community gardens have many commonly known benefits such as providing nutrient rich fruits and vegetables and adding beautification to a formerly vacant space.

Stress

Working in a garden is a long held method to reducing stress; granted, gardening is not for everyone. However, it turns out that the working part is optional! Researchers at Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found a correlation between their test subjects’ perceived health and the availability of green space near their living area. Results showed demonstrated a strong positive correlation between a person’s perceived health and their living proximity to green space. The positive effect on perceived health was constant for people up to a three-kilometer radius of green space.

stress free

Reduction of stress by way of proximity to green space is such a strong held philosophy that there is even a theory on it. The Psycho-physiological Stress Recovery Theory established that observing natural environments is good for a person’s health. In individuals who had reported feel stressed, observation of natural environments corresponded with reduced heart and blood pressure.

Crime Rate

A common concern from citizens when we propose a garden in their community is that the increased amount of vegetation will prompt more crime. However, studies examining this ideology have found the contrary to be evident! Residents in Chicago reported to feeling safer when there was a higher density of trees near their living quarters. And rightfully so! An association was found between vegetation around a building and a lower frequency of property and violent crimes.

Property Value

Would you love to live near a beautiful garden that provided a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables along with a space to relax? Yes? You aren’t the only one! Maybe it is the possibility of reduced stress, lower crime rates, or maybe it is the beauty that a garden provides for a neighborhood. Any way, there is ample evidence that proximity to a community garden leads to an increase in property values.

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The Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC) contains data from every community garden on record in NYC. That is a lot of gardens! Researchers from the journal Real Estate Economics utilized data from the CENYC and personal investigation to find how community gardens affected communities across the Bronx (notoriously the poorest neighborhood in NYC). The results of their inquiry showed that community gardens had a significant correlation with an increase in property values within 1,000 feet.

Therefore, appreciate your community garden for all that it is worth! Whither you reap the benefits of fresh foods, less stress, less crime, or higher property value, a community garden is the gift that keeps on giving.

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Raising the Roof

I have been asked time and time again, “Why are you making a garden on the rooftop?”

There are a multitude of reasons to put a garden on the rooftop of a building, but we will start with the most obvious- Open land for gardening in NYC is scarce and in demand. Even if there was a generous plot of land available for a garden, no one can really say how long it will be available for the garden. Putting time, money, and sweat into a garden seems impractical if a developer comes along wanting the land.

Home gardening has been a practice in some form since the 1800’s. From school gardening to surviving food shortage gardening has evolved to meet the needs to the people. Today’s community gardens are working to fulfill the need for education in nature, community revival, artistic expression etc. Since gardening has withstood the test of time, why should a shortage of land stop it? As of 2013, Chicago boasted 359 rooftop gardens.

The EPA has identified numerous reasons as to why A green roof holds the possibility of reducing energy need (this could mean a lower energy bill for you!) because it acts as insulation for the building it is upon. Saving energy should be a sufficient enough reason to invest in a rooftop garden, but the benefits do not end there!

roofgarden

There have been countless studies documenting the effect of gardens on wellbeing. Just a few sources that have boasted this are BBC, the EPA, the journal Social Science & Medicine, and the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources from the University of Delaware among many others. Maybe having a beautiful green oasis as far away as your rooftop isn’t so crazy.

solace

Want to have a cheaper heating bill AND a healthier life?! How about in addition to all of that, you have fresh fruits and vegetables available just floors away.

Crop Rotation

A question that we frequently get from new time gardeners is, “Do I have to rotate my garden?” For the sake of your soil, yes! As we all know (or should know), your soil health is critical for your garden health. Soil has the responsibility to regulate water, filter contaminants, offer physical stability for plant roots, cycle nutrients, and possibly most important, sustain the life of your garden!

If the responsibilities of soil are not enough to convince you, Carol Hancock of Extension Mater Gardener Volunteer Extension Mater Gardener Volunteer summed up the importance of crop rotation in three simple reasons:

  1. Increase nutrition of plants
  2. Increasing soil quality by having plants roots at different depths
  3. Improve soil structure

Make it simple

If you are concerned that you are not cut out for rotating your crops, have no fear! We are here to help and have simplified guidelines to help you successfully rotate your garden.

First: separate your crops into the major plant categories http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/gardening-techniques/healthy-soil-crop-rotation-zmaz10fmzraw.aspx?PageId=3

Second: use a durable paper or computer program do document your crop’s locations

Crop-Rotation
http://www.betterhensandgardens.com/garden-crop-rotation-a-simple-system/

Third: plant your crops. In the case of any left over area, plant cover crops in them.

  • Cover crops are beneficial to helping keep out weeds and provide additional nutrients to the soil

Fourth and final: Stick to your plan!

If you require more in depth directions, a free online manual is provided by Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education.

Children and Teens in the Garden

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Farming Metropolis places a great emphasis on getting children and teens involved in establishing and maintaining community urban gardens, but not without some criticism. I would like to address the concerns reported by communities and provide reasoning for the emphasis on children and teens.

The most common complaint I get is that children and teens would better spend their time focusing on school and homework. To that I say both yes and no.

Let me explain!

Yes, homework is important. But, should they be doing homework all the time? I don’t believe so (and I don’t think your children do either). Extracurricular activities are important and a garden would be a great place to do it. Keep in mind that we are talking about a community garden; I do not mean that your children and teens should spend hours each day in the garden, but rather whatever time they would like to provide. While gardening, children and teen may garner real world skills on building planters and using space efficiently and handling plants. In addition (and possibly most important) the children and teens benefit from hands on activities that further their knowledge on different fruits and vegetables and their growing environments.

learning to garden

Yes, a fulfilling education can never be overvalued. But, are your kids learning about food in school? Jamie Oliver, a well-known chief and activist personally investigated this and he found a very disturbing phenomena. The children of a class that he visited were not capable of identifying whole vegetables such as potatoes and eggplants. In his TED Talk, Jamie described how school curriculums are missing materials that are essential in today’s obese America. If the children and teens aren’t getting this in school, how wonderful would it be if they could get it in their community or in their very own home.

root and fruitSpending time in a community garden can do as little as occupy some extra time or as much as revolutionize their life!

FarmingMetro’s Blog

Farming Metropolis is a nonprofit organization that establishes community gardens around NYC and teaches the community to maintain the garden.

Our blog is designed to explain the way we do things and why we do things. We also take time to answer questions that are frequently asked or make clarifications to disputed policies.