A community garden invites participation: passers-by stop to chat over the fence, pick a ripe raspberry hanging over the sidewalk, observe the buzz of activity or just enjoy the view. People who garden at home might come around to ask for advice about certain plants, trade seeds or seedlings, and tell garden stories. The school garden is a friendly and welcoming centrepiece of the neighbourhood, if there are enough programs and activities taking place to give it a vibrant, cared-for look.
People sometimes ask about vandalism or theft of food. These are problems all community gardens face, and the universal answer is always:
- clean up and repair the damage immediately, and
- find ways to increase the community engagement, supporting pride and collective ownership
There is always the possibility that food is being “stolen” by the hungry, so if that’s the case, at least it is not being wasted. Most literature on the subject suggests that we always plant more than we expect to harvest.
Community gardens provide both children, families and community members with an opportunity to work together. We all need the kind of open-ended social relationships that are fostered outdoors in the garden – places where folks from a range of ages and various cultural backgrounds can interact with a common purpose.