A History of Community Gardening (and Where it Stands Within Society Today)
Community gardens can be wonderful places where locals can unite to grow plants (generally of the edible variety), share these plants with others, and connect with their community.
In this article, we take a look at what a community garden is, where and when the practice began, and what community gardens look like today.
What is community gardening?
A community garden is generally created on a spot of land owned by the government, churches, or schools – generally groups that have a bit of a community focus. It is an area where people can grow flowers or food, and work either individually in allotment gardens, or together in a shared space to create a garden.
They can be a great option for people who love gardening but do not have the space where they live, for example, those in apartments, who might not have access to a garden, otherwise. Community gardens can also be a great way to create more greenery in a space, get kids keen about gardening, and can act as space to share information and tips.
Image from Open Gardens SA
When and where did it begin?
It can be tricky to pinpoint exactly when the practice of community gardening began. One instance of community gardening – in some form, at least – can be dated back to the 1730s in Sheffield, England. These spaces were leased out by estates for rental income, to craftsmen and tenants. Although it can’t be confirmed with 100-percent accuracy what was grown in these plots, evidence has been found to suggest it included produce such as turnips, potatoes, and peas.
Public land gardening plots began emerging in Britain during the early 19th century. These plots were allocated to the poor by the British Government, allowing people to grow flowers and vegetables in designated public spaces.
Community gardens began taking off in Australia at the turn of the 20th century, and helped local communities suffering from food shortages. The 1970s and 1980s saw community gardening really take off on our shores with Melbourne’s Nunawading and Sydney’s Callan Park.
Pic from RHS Gardening
What does it look like today?
Today, community gardening takes many shapes and forms across Australia. Designated allotments can be found all around the country, and are often supplied to the community by their local councils. Some of these spaces include additional elements, such as seating, raised beds, and even sheds for chickens!
The internet also means there are networks setup to connect people who are interested in community gardening. One example of this is the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network, which can help people find a garden near them, and even give tips for those looking to start their own garden.
Community gardening can be a great way for those without access to a garden at their home to get amongst nature and grow their own food and flowers. It can also be a fantastic way to connect with like-minded members of a community, and can be an activity the whole family can get involved in! If you’re interested in getting involved with your local community garden, have a bit of a look online to find out where it’s happening and how you can get involved!