100 Day Challenge #39: If you can't grow veggies at home, join a community garden
Growing our own vegetables has been a life changing experience for us and is now one of our favorite sustainable practices. We've learned so much about growing seasons, weather patterns, and food production since we started veggie gardening a few years ago and our production yields have increased tremendously since that first trial and error growing season. We promise, if we were able to get those veggies to grow, so can you! We knew so little when we started but dove right in and figured it out along the way (with many mistakes made, but that's part of the fun!).
We know not everyone has the backyard space, financial resources, design knowledge or a strong back to build their own raised beds, so if you fall into one of these categories then fret not because we've got the perfect solution for you.
Community gardens are true gems especially if you're just starting out on the veggie growing journey and you're not quite sure what to do. They not only promote sustainable agriculture, organic gardening methods, and stronger community ties, but they also give you access to a group of passionate gardeners who are happy to teach and share their growing knowledge with you. If you have children, community gardens are an outdoor classroom and an amazing way of teaching them where food comes from and grow their excitement for fruits and vegetables.
What exactly is a community garden and what can you expect?
Generally speaking, a community garden is a dedicated space that is owned by a neighborhood, church, or organization. Each community garden member is then given an assigned plot of land to cultivate and harvest for a monthly or annual fee. Many times basic tools such as a hose and organic amendments (sometimes even compost created on-site) are provided. Out of respect for your fellow gardeners, a certain level of commitment is expected when you choose to lease a plot; you're typically expected to keep your plot relatively tidy (keeping vines out of walkways for example) and being around to harvest your fruits and veggies in a timely manner (keeping ripe produce picked reduces garden pests). Community gardens often times have other projects on-site such as composting or rain harvesting that you can get involved with as well.
Not convinced yet? Here are a few other reasons to join a community garden
Increase your physical activity and time outdoors. If, like us, you're just not meant for the gym then gardening may be the answer to get your regular exercise time in. According to the University of Virginia, gardening is up there with other moderate to strenuous forms of exercise, like walking and biking.
Have fun with friends. Are you a little apprehensive about the time commitment involved with taking ownership over a veggie plot? Get a group of your friends or neighbors and go in on it together. You'll not only cut down on the membership cost, but you'll also be able to share in the learning journey, make all those fun gardening mistakes together, and be able to cover for each other if someone gets busy.
Make new friends! Step outside of your comfort zone a little bit and get to know other members of your community. Growing veggies alongside neighbors is a great way to build long-lasting relationships with a common passion.
Have access to the freshest produce you've ever tasted. We were amazed the first time we tried arugula grown at home. We felt as though the grocery store had cheated us our whole lives and our taste buds finally recognized the true, peppery taste of an arugula leaf. We'll never go back to that bland, wannabe arugula from the grocery store again. If there are some fruits and veggies you're not growing, you can always go old school and barter with some fellow growers in nearby plots!
So, find a community garden near you, and start reaping all of the benefits! We promise you wont' be disappointed when you're energized and excited about all the fresh fruit and vegetables on your dinner plate and look back at the awesome friendships you've made along the way!