Should every development have a community garden?

It seems like every week we hear about another community garden or urban farming project that is transforming a neighbourhood: bringing together people of all ages and different backgrounds who wouldn’t normally meet and creating a network of passionate local growers.

This week our favourites are:

  • Growing Newsome in Huddersfield, which is planting 1,000 fruit trees in public places around the community and has set up a scheme to get experienced growers to give a plant to a neighbour who is new to gardening
  • Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn, NY, where farmers have set up a bicycle delivery scheme to supply local restaurants
  • the Bradford Urban Garden is a temporary public space created on the abandoned site of a future Westfield shopping centre
  • and Whitecross Street community garden where residents of the Peabody estate have become actively involved in looking after their outdoor communal spaces

Talk to a community gardener and the benefits of these projects are abundantly clear – new friendships, healthy food, shared interests, pride in the community, and sometimes the opportunity for local enterprise as well. Start up costs are low because the essential ingredient is volunteer time and the smallest unused space can become productive, even if it’s just for a season. We have heard reports of gardeners using gro-bags to turn derelict urban spaces into temporary tomato patches. While at the other end of the scale, the Union Street Urban Orchard is a temporary fruit garden created by volunteers for London’s Festival of Architecture, that will be dismantled at the end of September and the trees replanted on neighbouring estates.