Community gardens are communal plots of land which belong to towns and cities and which are tended to by local residents. They are not the same as family gardens which are private. Community gardens are growing in urban areas and are first and foremost vectors of social connections. They foster ecology and teaching initiatives and help city dwellers reclaim the city as their own in an enjoyable way. Read on to find out how community gardens are at the crossroads of current major urban challenges.

Motivating a neighbourhood’s inhabitants

Community gardens are an excellent means of creating social inclusion and mutual help. They are meeting points for residents of a same neighbourhood, and gardening has a knack of bringing people together regardless of their ages, origins, and opinions. They sometimes even become the perfect venue for a celebration.

Gardening can be an intergenerational activity and may interest older, seasoned experts or parents who want to teach their children how to garden whilst making it fun. Communal gardens are also places of expression and creativity, to some extent.

Educating and raising city dwellers’ awareness

Communal gardens are the perfect places for teaching and knowledge transfer. They are becoming multi-dimensional activity platforms and may be used for practical teaching about the environment and real-life spots for experiments.

The aim is sometimes to raise awareness about healthy eating and the importance of knowing where the food we eat comes from. Some local associations are involved in these food issues.

There may also be partnerships with local schools near the gardens, meaning that young people in cities can discover an activity they often know next to nothing about.

Developing a city’s ecological and environmental aspect

Communal gardens are perfect for talking and thinking about how cities and ecology are changing. By helping to encourage a sense of community based on environmental respect, they are an excellent way to develop biodiversity at the heart of urban areas and grow good quality, pesticide-free, organic products.

Gardening is much more than a simple trend; it proves the need for commitment and a return to nature in its most noble form. Reconnecting with nature and food is often the reason for those who use them. An eco-friendly charter is drawn up to regulate the use of these gardens and prohibit phytosanitary products.

Some communal gardens are open to external use and even extend their main initiatives to other ecological initiatives such as seed swaps, bike repairs, and workshops to make bird houses.

Re-appropriating a city

Gardens are a way of making one’s mark on the city and, in the same way, reconnecting with it. These little havens of greenery are managed differently according to cities. Local policies to develop communal gardens are set up in different towns and cities. In general, cities oversee development (fences, huts, water supply, topsoil, etc.) and the project owner (usually local residents’ associations) takes care of maintenance.

Projects to feed schoolchildren in the local area are also being launched where communal garden produce is given to canteens. Programmes have been voted in at local council meetings to provide equipment and teams to develop these circuits.

A host of positive experiences have emerged since the 90s and have encouraged other initiatives to be launched across France. Communal gardens improve city dwellers’ mental health and are supported by most towns and cities. They have continued to grow in the past five years.

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Article updated on 12/08/22