Community gardens are places where people come together to grow a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers. They do this by renting individual or shared plots of land within the community garden. In Waterloo Region, community gardens are run by churches, neighborhood associations, non-profit organizations, community agencies, clubs, private landowners, municipalities… just about anyone
• Increase access to fresh foods
• Improve food security
• Increase physical activity through garden maintenance activities
• Improve dietary habits through education
• Increase fruit and vegetable intake
• Reduce risk of obesity and obesity-related diseases
• Improve mental health and promote relaxation
Social ties are important to the wellbeing of people in a community since they can bring positive health effects and community involvement. Community gardens allow for the creation of social ties and build a greater feeling of community. These connections help reduce crime, empower residents and allow residents to feel safe in their neighborhoods.
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• Gardens in urban areas are positively correlated with decreased crime rates
• Vacant lands can lead to crime which can detrimentally impact the health of residents
• Residents in areas with high crime rates may experience cardiovascular disease and mental health disorders
• The consequences of vacant lands are decreased property values, drug use, and the illegal dumping of litter, tires and chemicals
• Gardens can improve economic opportunities by training volunteers and selling food at farmers’ markets
• Urban agriculture can teach residents useful skills in planning, food production and business
• Improving vacant lots increased property values in New Kinsington, Philadelphia by 30% 3
• Gardens have been an important aspect of many cultures in history. In the past, community gardens were commonly used to provide food for families year-round. During WWII, victory gardens were an important source of food for American families. Recently, there has been a resurgence of community gardens to help mitigate the impacts of food deserts and as a use for the increased number of vacant lands present in urban areas. Community gardens can provide fresh, healthy produce for residents and allow them to reduce their food bills.