The Council has long been touting the benefits of community gardening in both urban and rural settings alike. Community gardens offer healthy local foods that are often more nutritious than their grocery store or food bank counterparts. Gardens also help community members become more active, and they are a great way for congregations, local organizations and neighborhoods to collaborate together. Last Sunday the Raleigh News & Observer highlighted this growing movement, using the example of Highland United Methodist Church.
RALEIGH — Interest in community gardens has reached an all-time high, but the movement could fizzle unless communities provide the right training and support for startup groups, a national expert told an audience in Raleigh recently.
Getting started is the easy part, said Laura Lawson, chairwoman of the landscape architecture department at Rutgers University and author of “City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America.”
Community gardens can be just as important as public parks, especially in low-income areas with poor access to healthy foods, Lawson said…
But groups need several ingredients to be successful – and they often don’t realize the level of commitment it takes, Lawson said. Access to water and good soil are obvious needs. Groups also need fencing and security to ward off thieves and vandals.
The movement will continue to thrive in Raleigh, predicted Cullen Whitley, garden coordinator at Highland United Methodist Church at Ridge Road and Lake Boone Trail.
Highland started its garden to serve English as a Second Language students who were taking classes at the church through a program at Wake Technical Community College.
The project has attracted first-time gardeners who live in the area, many of whom don’t attend Highland.
“It’s just gone off the charts,” Whitley said. “Quite literally in one year, there’s been an exponential increase in interest. I think it’s going to continue.”
You’ll find extensive resources about community gardening at the Rural Life Committee’s Come to the Table program website.
-Chris Liu-Beers, Program Associate