What is a Community Garden?

In its simplest form, a Community Garden happens when two or more people gather to plant a garden on common space. It can be urban, suburban, or rural. It can include flowers, vegetables or community. It can be one community plot, or many individual plots. It can be located at a school, hospital, church, fire or police station, or in a neighborhood.

What are the benefits of a Community Garden?

  • Grow gardening skills
  • Create environmental education opportunities
  • Increase neighborhood involvement and enhance community pride
  • Produce nutritious food and improve health
  • Improve the quality of life for people in the garden
  • Provide a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
  • Stimulate social interaction
  • Encourage self-reliance
  • Beautify neighborhoods
  • Reduce family food budgets
  • Conserve resources
  • Create opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
  • Reduce crime
  • Preserve (or create) green space
  • Create income opportunities and economic development
  • Reduce city heat from streets and parking lots through increased greenspace
  • Provide opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections
  • Increase outside time
  • Create opportunities for exercise and stress reduction

Source: adapted from the American Community Gardening Association (http://www.communitygarden.org/)

Why plant a Community Garden?

Grow gardening skills:

  • Learn from others
  • Discover new interests and specialties, such as perennials, bulbs, or trees
  • Bring together people from diverse cultural and age backgrounds
  • Teach children
  • Create environmental education opportunities
  • Learn about soil and water conservation
  • Care for your own parcel of land
  • Improve urban soil and air quality
  • Create havens for beneficial insects
  • Increase neighborhood involvement
  • Encourage cooperation among neighbors
  • Strengthen ties to business, schools, city agencies, and community groups
  • Develop leadership
  • Enhance community pride
  • Enhance neighborhoods through greening
  • Beautify vacant lots, front yards, streets, and business districts
  • Decrease crime
  • Produce food and improve health
  • Expand the family food budget
  • Improve diet
  • Learn to preserve harvests for year-round food
  • Exercise
  • Share with others
  • Increase food security/access

Source: adapted from Neighborhood Harvest

Community Garden/Urban Agriculture dates of significance

1940s: Albert A. Moore leads Urban Agriculture program at Flanner House in response to the Great Migration of African Americans from the south to the north.
Read more about Mr. Moore’s work here:  http://urbanpatch.org/roots/
1975: Mayor’s Garden Project launched.
1978: Master Gardener program launched in Marion County.
1985: Indianapolis is one of 23 cities in the United States to participate in a federally-funded program to promote community gardening in public housing. The Roots of Ruckle, Mapleton-Fall Creek Garden, is considered the first in that project. Kathy Harting, then community garden coordinator for the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service in Marion County, oversees the effort. The Urban Gardening Program launched, later renamed the Capital City Garden Project.
1986: Beville Sunshine Harvest Community Garden begins (later renamed Dewey’s Sunshine Community Garden). This garden continues after a two-year break.
1996: GreenSpeak, a newsletter of the Capital City Garden Project begins publication
1997: First summer of community gardening project at the Governor’s mansion, spearheaded by Judy O’Bannon. Project continued until 2003.
1997: American Community Gardening Association meeting held in Indianapolis.
2006: Survey of Community Gardens conducted by Angela Herrmann
2009: Community Garden Resource Center proposal approved as part of the Broadway United Methodist Church Miracle on 29th Street initiative
2011: Community Garden Resource Center evolves into Fall Creek Gardens The Urban Growers Resource Center with a partnership with the Unleavened Bread Café and land located at 30th St. and Central Ave.
2012: Updated survey of Community Gardens conducted by April Hammerand, Food Coalition of Central Indiana; Angela Herrmann, Fall Creek Gardens, and Steve Mayer, Purdue Extension.

For a survey of community gardening in Indianapolis from the mid 1970s to 2006, see the report, Community Gardening: A Path to Food Security in Indianapolis.