Five Tips for Launching an Urban Garden
In the end, the goal of urban community gardens and the key to their success is the same, says Singer: “It’s about growing community.”
By Rhea Kennedy
March 26, 2013
Americans cultivate an estimated 18,000 community gardens, and now more of their growing is taking place in city lots and building rooftops. Urban gardeners see numerous benefits, from a heightened sense of empowerment to a lighter grocery bill to lowered crime rates. Yet challenges to such projects inevitably spring up like crab grass.
To gather ideas for aspiring city gardener leaders, I turned to two people with deep knowledge of the topic. Josh Singer is the co-founder of Wangari Gardens, a rapidly expanding project in Washington, D.C. Natasha Bowens is the photographer and writer behind the upcoming book The Color of Food and has traveled the U.S. collecting stories of food sovereignty. Here are the top five tips I gleaned from these young experts:
1. Communicate with the Community.
First, “there has to be cultural understanding and trust,” Bowens says. “So many people assume that because some communities are lacking food access and have high health problems that gardens are the solution,” she wrote in an e-mail. But this is not always the case, she felt, and for transplants to a city, checking in becomes even more important. “You have to understand you’re a guest,” says Singer. This can apply to members of a service corps, too.