photo: Danny Woo International District Community Gardens, Joe Mabel
There are so many interesting ways to think about community gardens. My last post listed twelve of these. Venue, design, and the needs of the users all play a role in planning a community garden. Here are eleven more ways to get inspired:
1. Corporate work places
Why not help create a healthy balanced life by introducing a community-style garden at your workplace? Albert Quek, a senior manager at Yokogawa Engineering (Singapore) did just this. The garden welcomes visitors, allows workers an opportunity to grow herbs, spices and fruit trees. There is even a rooftop garden for relaxing. Quek also created a DIY vertical gardening system after implementing a passion for gardening onto his own 1-meter square balcony.
2. First Peoples gardens
When it comes to long-term knowledge about local growing possibilities, indigenous peoples often have a deeply knowledgeable and have a unique perspective. Despite this, many indigenous peoples often have the greatest need for food security. Community garden initiatives serve the purpose of celebrating and maintaining knowledge, while also providing resources to communities.
The Yilili Aboriginal Community School located in Western Australia is a wonderful example of community learning that bridges institutional communities with geographic and cultural communities. Part of their efforts is dedicated o the school’s community garden. Local families can wander down and pick a meal, and the indigenous women who prepare the students’ lunches also use the harvest. The Canadian government has also provided funding to almost 40 communities through the Aboriginal Agriculture Initiative (AAI) for the purpose of establishing community gardens.
The act of gardening has long been known to provide a sense of calm and bring mental and physical health benefits to gardeners. With this in mind, many communities and health care facilities have made gardens a part of their focus. For an impressively long list of gardens working in conjunction with health care of facilities, see Healing Landscapes.
4. Fill the Food banks
Many communities are growing to help fill the kitchens and shelves of local food banks. One of these is The Stop Community Food Centre, which produces more than 4000 pounds of fresh produce each year. The Grow a Row program encourages gardeners to plant an extra row of their favourite vegetables to donate to their local food bank.
The Danny Woo International Garden has been a centre of learning, beauty and relaxation for Seattle Asian Seniors since 1975. Despite its focus on seniors, many people visit the gardens just for their beauty and a children’s garden has also been recently added.
Gardening can be a physically demanding activity, particularly when garden beds are located close to the ground. Fortunately, many creative people have come up with beautiful and accessible gardening solutions. The Guelph Enabling Garden is open to all children, families, elderly, and those with a variety of cognitive and physical abilities. The Sunshine Coast Seniors Garden includes raised tables and accessible greenhouse. It was designed by and for seniors, and is located next to another food garden that provides intergenerational sharing. Also check out the Francis Avenue wheelchair gardens. Click here for instructions on building a wheelchair accessible raised bed.
Many community gardens conjure up images of spaces that are an improvement over their previous aesthetic but that primarily remain a series of rectangular boxes. Many have realized that this does not need to be the case, as design contests for community gardens are popping up like weeds. To inspire beauty in your garden check out this video for a permaculture and design at Coffs Harbour Community Garden, this oasis in Singapore, the Franklin Park Conservatory, and the Strathcona Gardens.
8. Partnerships with Parks
Many government parks organizations have taken on the role of facilitating community gardening. This allows for organizational focus within cities, and has also opened up land. Examples include Montgomery Parks, Vancouver Parks and Singapore’s National Parks.
If you are in a city pressed for space, rooftops gardens may be the way to go. This takes careful planning as not all buildings can handle having a garden on top. St Paul’s Hospital has, however, managed to pull off this feat. Here are some guidelines for planning a rooftop community garden, complete with a photo of a garden made of kiddie pools! The Rooftop Garden Project has a slew of useful resources (most in French & English) including a complete guide to setting up an edible rooftop garden; educational guides; social, technical & environmental assessments; and even a research thesis on the topic!
10. Museum Gardens: A growing trend
Museums have often embraced a role of facilitating community interaction and learning. Many are beginning to use community gardens as one way to build upon this role. For examples of existing museum gardens check out the Woodlawn Museum, the Enfield Shaker Museum, the Huronia Museum, and the community/demonstration garden at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum. Watch out for the up-and-coming Sydney Powerhouse Museum garden. Better yet, get involved and attend the American Museum Association’s conference on Feeding the Spirit: Museums, Food, and Community (October, 2011, Pittsburgh).
11. On the move?
Check out these fabulous moveable feasts: Have a look at this proposed native garden, to be installed on the back car of an operating Chicago Transit Authority train; there is also a garden truck being pedaled (yes, human powered) around San Francisco that houses a mobile garden. The most beautiful mobile garden I have seen is the Westshore Garden-in-Motion located in Victoria, B.C. I have yet to track down a photo of this one though, so you will have to wait to see it!
There are so many wonderful examples out there. Please share your favourites in the comments section below!