One of things my town has going for it is that it provides community gardens (not just sports fields).
Unfortunately, there’s so much demand for these gardens, there’s a long waiting list.
Of course, it’s understandable why there is a demand for these plots. They make growing food easier and more enjoyable.
How so? The tilling and compost delivery is done as a service. However, the most important reason is that it’s a way to connect with a community of people that are interested in gardening. People willing to share their gardening knowledge and help you out when you need it.
NOTE: I’ve heard that a good way to foster conversations at an allotment is to put the water faucet in a central location rather than deliver it to each plot. Why? When the gardeners go to get water, they are likely to interact with other gardeners doing the same.
While community gardens/allotments are great, it’s possible to improve upon it. One of the ways to do this is to create a local space that’s similar to the spaces that are being built to house makers (local artisans and craftspeople) across the world. These “makerspaces” often operate like a public library. However, instead of making it easier to access information like a library, they make it easier to design and prototype new products by providing the expensive equipment, community, and education needed to do it.
So, how does this apply to community gardening?
One of the best ways to build a gardening or micro-farming space is to build a greenhouse. A greenhouse can become a hive of gardening activity during the months that it is impossible to garden outside. A way to keep a community together year round and a location to teach new/old techniques to both adults and children.
Here’s an example from a town that’s north of the Arctic Circle called Inuvik:
This community greenhouse rents small plots to residents and serves as one of the epicenters of the community.
In extremely hot and arid locations, this could work in reverse, e.g. a greenhouse that is partially below ground could be cooler and more conducive to growing plants during the peak of the summer.
One of the benefits of a community gardening effort is that it’s a way to foster the development of local micro-farmers, food artisans, and much more. It could even become, with some work and oversight, an incubator for local food producers.
Long term, a public greenhouse or a makerspace is likely to become as important to a community’s economic success as a great local school system, particularly as we continue to re-localize the global economy.
Hope this gets you thinking.