What Are the Societal Impacts of Community Gardens (by Brittney Kuebler)

Check out Brittney’s Blog at http://durable.tumblr.com/.

Public Writing from Brittney Kuebler: When Gardening Goes Beyond the Garden

There are many reasons why one should be involved in their community, or why one should eat healthy or be more knowledgeable about their food. There are many reasons to do many things, but it is the action that counts. We are facing a major crisis in our culture today. Obesity is at an all time high. Corn syrup and artificial sugars are seemingly inescapable. We are at a crossroads where we really have to make an effort to eat properly. There is a bombardment of media and advertising, million dollar corporations, and public preference all up against the average consumer. For one thing, it is usually cheaper to eat unhealthy. Processed artificial sugars and corn syrup is cheaper to manufacture than cane or raw sugar, therefore it is more readily available. It is so incredibly easy to get swept up in the cheapness and ease of it all. I feel immense pressure to be healthy but at the same time it feels like everything is against me. Going grocery shopping is difficult and it takes twice the amount of effort to plan a decent healthy and cheap meal. When did things get so difficult? I’ve come to the realization that what we need is a thought revolution, because the solution may not be so complicated after all.

As a college student I find it difficult to eat the foods that catch my eye. I can’t afford what is best for me, or what is of the highest quality. But I refuse to be swept up in the typical college student haze of midnight pizzas and fast food. If I want the quality of life that I so desire, I need to start now, and not wait for some revelation to occur. I have taken it upon myself to completely renovate my health and eating. My system is hardly perfect. I do eat midnight pizzas occasionally and I will admit that there are chocolate covered caramels in my cabinet, but overall I am proud of myself. After gaining 30 pounds I decided enough was enough and for a summer straight I dieted and exercised like there was no tomorrow. There was initial drop-off but I couldn’t keep up this system for long. I decided then that what I needed was a lifestyle change. The first thing I realized was that what you put inside will reflect on the outside. So I started swapping soda for seltzer water, and candy bars for granola bars, and jogging regularly instead of killing myself with cardio. I also realized that I could lessen the struggle by finding support, so I joined a community garden not only to learn about healthy eating, but to put myself in a positive, healthy environment.

Joining a community garden taught me so many things. Mostly the importance of community and health, but also how easy it was to implement home grown foods into your diet. I can’t tell you how much money I saved by growing seeds and harvesting my own fruits and vegetables. Joining a community garden goes so far beyond yourself, it has huge societal impacts. You learn the importance of community and your neighborhood when you work together for a common good. You can improve the quality of your surroundings. You can provide produce for others less fortunate than yourself by donating to nonprofit organizations like the Oregon Food Bank or finding one here: http://www.ampleharvest.org/. You can improve your own health and well being by growing your own food, because you are controlling your own nutrients. Finally, you can inspire others by sharing your community spirit, and healthy lifestyle.

I now have four little raised beds in my garden. What I grow varies from year to year to year. Last summer I had lettuce, strawberries, carrots, pearl onions, heirloom tomatoes, sunflowers, celery, green onions, ginger, garlic, and squash. It produced some of the best stews and stir-frys I’ve had yet. I find myself being full of energy from the exercise and the fresh air, and from the beauty that I see in that little garden. It’s strange how prideful you feel after growing your own produce. I owe all of these accomplishments to various Portland community gardens for inspiring me to be involved in my community, my neighborhood, and to take an active role in my own health. I wish that everyone would try to grow their own gardens, or take part in a community garden. It is only a small piece of responsibility and the benefits outweigh all of the sweat and labor. I feel very strongly that if we all take an active role in our community and our own well being, we can improve our quality of life and create healthier and more active generations.

The cat loved it too!

http://durable.tumblr.com/

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The Research Collection

Research Collection Based on the Following Question: What are the Societal Impacts of Community Gardens?

Doyle, RebekahKrasny, Marianne. “Participatory Rural Appraisal As An Approach To Environmental Education In Urban Community Gardens.” Environmental Education Research 9.1 (2003): 91. Professional Development Collection. Web. 20 Nov. 2012.

Summary: This article is about a case study performed on a group of children partaking in an urban environmentalism program through Cornell University called the Garden Mosaics Program. There, minority or immigrant children learn about different plants and implement learned actions throughout their community. The overall outcome of the study is that the students that had no prior contact with certain aspects of gardening found that the community based learning structure helped implement better community and environmental understanding.

Commentary: This article is beneficial to me because it is a study that results in community action. It basically aims to prove the good that environmental and garden education can do. The children learn and facilitate learned activities like the history of the garden, gardening practices, needs of the garden, and soil analysis. The education of the children leads to a stronger link between them and their community.

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Ferris, John, Carol Norman, and Joe Sempik. “People, Land And Sustainability: Community Gardens And The Social Dimension Of Sustainable Development.” Social Policy & Administration 35.5 (2001): 559. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.

Summary: This article is a fantastic source on various community gardens throughout the U.S. and their environmental and societal impact on their community.

Commentary: I like this source in particular because the author aimed to research the environmental impacts, but found the immense social impacts, and he was so well impressed, he made it his second focus in his article. He describes different types of gardens like “crime diversion gardens” and “entrepreneurial gardens”, it’s all very interesting.

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Curtis, Kyle. “How to Transform a Vacant Lot Into a Thriving Community Garden.” Neighborhood Notes. 27 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.

Summary: This article is about the Centennial Neighborhood community garden that was implemented in a poor “food dessert” (no access to healthy affordable food) where there are minority groups living in multi-family apartment homes. The garden resulted in community involvement and easier access to healthy foods.

Commentary: I like this source because it is a case where community gardening worked and had positive impact on its surrounding area. It is a clear example of successful implementation of a community driven garden.

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Brandon, Katherine. “A Healthy Harvest.” The White House Blog. The White House, 17 June 2009. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.

Summary: This article is written by the official White House Blog about the First Lady’s organic vegetable garden. Schools from around the area come and garden and learn about vegetables, health, and organic gardening. The world that the White House did here is so very inspiring.

Commentary: I wanted to find a relatable interesting article to make my theme more interesting so I thought that I would take the White House Garden as an example of a (very) successful community garden. The White House Garden is used in community outreach programs with local schools to teach children about health, fruits and vegetables, and gardening. I tried and tried to find more recent periodicals about the White House Garden but no one cares about it anymore apparently.

 

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One comment

  1. Candace Bergam

    Brittney,
    Let me start by congratulating you on your excellent work. I really connect with your blog because you focus on community, health and wellness. I appreciate that you established a history in sharing your story and that you also share the positive impact that gardening has made in your life on to your health. I live near several community gardens and have always wondered how they work, so the knowledge that I gained from your writing was very helpful. Because of your writing, I now want to start growing my own produce as well as participating in community gardening programs.
    You certainly demonstrate a thorough understanding of context and audience and demonstrate a mastery of genre and disciplinary conventions as well as control of syntax and mechanics. I think that your research collection is great, however, I would have liked to see more of the research in your writing. Other than that, this is a very compelling and persuasive piece and I greatly appreciate your work.

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