Some people are passionate about gardening, some would like to get more involved in it, and others just don’t know what they’re missing. Sure, there’ll be days when the heat is almost unbearable or the wildlife seems to be harvesting more vegetables than you are, but the experience of cultivating the soil, tending young plants and collecting the fruits of your labor bring a level of satisfaction that’s hard to rival.

Planting beds in rain

Even the rain doesn't stop this group of community gardeners.

Photo Credit: David Morgan

In an urban area – perhaps even in some parts of suburbia – the available garden space on your property may be limited, if not nonexistent. In an effort to promote community interaction and reap the benefits of plants in public spaces, many municipalities offer community gardens for a nominal fee so that those who seek the rewards of gardening can still do so – if not in their back yard, somewhere else in their area.

Community gardens are typically divided into assigned garden plots of a manageable size. Irrigation is usually provided, but fertilizing is left to the individual gardeners, since some may choose to use organic gardening practices. While most gardeners use the plots to produce fresh vegetables, many also grow cut flowers, adding color and beauty to the area. (Marigolds are even planted by some gardeners as a pest deterrent.)

Often local Cooperative Extension Agents work with gardeners to ensure that everyone works cooperatively and understands proper etiquette when it comes to gardening around others. For example, though it’s the individual’s responsibility to water his/her own garden plot, neighbors might arrange to share the responsibility during vacation times. And while each gardener is expected to maintain their particular plot, if one garden area is being neglected, it may be in the best interest of the entire garden community to help pull the weeds (which may otherwise disperse seed to neighboring plots) or pick ripe fruit (which may promote disease if left rotting on the vine).

Community gardens are also nice because they bring seasoned gardeners and beginners together, working side by side. And the wonderful thing about gardeners – they love sharing their secrets for success – from planting time, staking method or unusual pest deterrents. You never know what kind of great tips you can pick up!

You don’t need a big back yard – or any yard at all – to enjoy the fun of gardening. Community gardens can help you get your fix. Gardeners working in community plots not only share in the experience of maintaining a beautiful garden, they share in an experience with nature. Whether it’s eating fruit straight from the vine in summer or watching the butterflies during a respite from the harvest, the garden cultivates more than food and flowers – it cultivates community.