What are Community gardens?
As a collective, especially since the pandemic, we have all found a sense of peace from the outdoors. As our means to socialise were removed, due to the closure of shops, bars and other social areas, the world seemed eerily quiet. So, many of us flocked to our gardens, local fields or forests to escape the banal routine of lockdown. Whilst many of us found sanctuary in these green spaces on our doorsteps, for many people living in urban areas, community gardens were the only accessible space, pre pandemic, which offered these environments to the local community. The necessity of these became even more apparent.
Community gardens are an allotment style space present in mostly urban environments. They are spaces made for the local community. These are managed by members of this community to expand knowledge on nature, relying mostly on a stream of volunteers. Acting as a form of therapy, they are not only a way of improving the community but one which improves wellbeing too. Community gardens often oversee the transformation of vacant spaces into one full of life as it provides the means for the local people to explore their community, build relationships and maintains a closeness to the environment through a sharing of knowledge, experience and mutual care for this space.
Why are they necessary?
Community gardens themselves act in opposition to the fast pace of life. Instead of embracing modernism and reflecting how society is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, these green spaces offer an environment to be present with our surroundings. Unfortunately, these green areas are becoming more and more destroyed due to urbanization which oversees the destruction of these rural areas to facilitate the growing population. This reflects the tragedy of Nomadic Community Garden, a haven nestled in-between tower blocks in Shoreditch. After almost 5 years, the land has been taken back to build tower blocks. This area is already over-saturated with gentrification and unaffordable housing. Whilst the creators of this space hope it has inspired those in the surrounding community to create their own projects, it seems a shame that a space like this no longer exist due to the clear good it provided for the community.
Why is supporting these spaces vital?
We can all relate to the belief that nature heals. As we move into warmer months, and the landscape around us changes, we can find ourselves yearning to be outside. However, for 3.3 million families in the UK, access to private gardens is not available. Studies have shown that spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. So clearly, having access to nature has a positive impact on mental and physical wellbeing, subsequently the necessity for community spaces for these families to access becomes even more vital.
As well as improving wellbeing, community gardens offer a space where people from all walks of life can coincide, sharing knowledge amongst the masses. They directly oppose the heavily implemented ideas of individualism, focusing rather on community spirit and communal development. Most importantly, the gardens offer a celebration of the environment. So many people have become disillusioned with the importance of nature, so the concept of a community garden offers a reconciliation with this. The connection to the nature also aids our connection to others. Most importantly, these community gardens are also free. By having a free space which acts as a sanctuary, it removes feelings of social isolation for many, especially those who may not have the means to afford to socialise elsewhere.
Givey & Community Gardens
Ultimately everybody should have access to green spaces so they can make connections in their local community. Givey recognises how community gardens have become a vital resource for many. Listed below are just a few supported by the Givey platform:
Hammersmith Community Gardens Association (HCGA) is based in Hammersmith and Fulham. They manage and maintain a range of community gardens in this area.
Forest Gate Community Garden, another London based community garden, aims to maintain green space for wildlife, plants and people. They also promote an inclusive community and nature wellbeing.
Hogsmill Community Garden, in collaboration with Kingston University of the arts, want to create a space for children to learn and enjoy themselves in nature. This space would also be for the local community.
If you found this article interesting to read, check out these:
World Wellbeing Week 2021 – Givey | Blog
Givey’s Guide To Asset-Based Community Development – Givey | Blog
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Written by Abigail Tate