Community gardens are created, cared for, and used by multiple people. They are gardens intended to benefit groups of people who live nearby. The garden in the photograph above was created in 1984 by residents at a nearby condominium development. Rather than just planting grass, this community created a space in which to gather and enjoy the outdoors.
1. If you were creating a garden for someone, who would it be for? Why?
2. Gardens are one place communities often gather. What are some other places where you can find groups of people? What types of communities are you a part of?
3. How would you get a group of people to help make a garden? How would the group agree on the type of garden to create, what to plant, and how to maintain the garden?
4. Do some research: Is there a community garden near your school, home or neighborhood? Who governs it? How do they decide who works in the garden? Do they have results to tell people what they can or cannot plant? Why do you think they have rules?
In the early twentieth century (1900-1950), urban parks were places where people could gather, stroll, look at nature, people watch, and have picnics.
1. When was the last time you visited a park? What did you do when you were there? Were there other people at the park? What were they doing?
2. What do we do in parks today that people might not have done 100 years ago? What are some things we do that are the same?
3. Do some research: Locate a park in your neighborhood, city or town. Then go to your local library to find out the history of this park.
4. If you were asked to create a new park, where would you put it? Why would you want it there? What would people do at your park?
Once a vacant lot, Jones Valley Urban Farm is now the centerpiece of this neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama. The structure in the photograph above is a place for nearby residents to gather for conversation and share information about the garden and community.
1. Are there meeting places in your community?
2. How do meeting places – places to gather and share friendships, ideas, conversation, advice, food, etc. – help a community?
3. Where would you create a meeting place? What would you want in the meeting place to make it comfortable for other people? How would you keep your meeting place clean and safe?
These gardeners are taking a well-earned rest to enjoy their community garden after a day of hard work. Many gardens are used as places to gather with friends, have a conversation, and relax.
1. Does your town have a community garden? If so, what do people do there?
2. In what ways do you think activities occurring in this garden are different from those in the photograph of Reservoir Park? In what ways are they similar?
3. What would you do in your community garden? Would you go to socialize with friends, relax, or both?
4. To learn more about how to start a community garden, visit www.communitygarden.org. Make a list of the different types of community gardens registered here. What type of garden would look best and be enjoyed by the people in your neighborhood? Why?
At Glenwood Green Acres, residents transformed a former industrial site (notice the old warehouse in the background) into a useful space for the community to grow food and beautify the neighborhood. Now, residents have a space where they can gather and meet one another, in addition to growing food.
1. How might this garden be a good thing for the community?
2. What would be some of the challenges or obstacles faced when turning an empty lot into a garden?
3. Do some research: Pretend you are a resident of a city without a garden or park. How would you convince officials in your city that public gardens are a good thing to have? Try drafting a letter to your mayor urging for a garden or park in your neighborhood. What evidence would you use to support creating a new park?
Download these scenes from Smithsonian Gardens to use as your desktop background, or on your next Zoom meeting!