Consider Community Gardens!
With the rising cost of groceries, many people are seeking ways to supplement their food supply, and gardening is becoming increasingly enticing. Community gardens are more than just a source of fresh produce - they also offer a variety of benefits to individuals and the community as a whole!
Over 2022, our Community Seeds program supported 22 community gardens, in 2023, we are still putting together seed bundles for 35. Additionally, we have supported 12 other kinds of projects, several include seed redistribution to community garden programs as part of broad food security/food sovereignty efforts. In 2023, we have been assembling seed bundles for 22 such projects.*
In many regions, community gardens have played an important role in community food systems — as a way of providing fresh produce for residents who may not have access to it otherwise. Such gardens can bring together people from diverse backgrounds, helping to build a stronger sense of community and promoting social, economic, and climate resilience. The concept of holistic community food systems has been gaining traction in recent years, as more people recognize the need for a more sustainable and equitable food system. Such systems involve a wide range of activities and practices, including growing and distributing food, providing experience-based opportunities to learn about healthy eating, supporting local farmers, and building community connections.
Photo from the USDA Office of Community Food Systems | Food and Nutrition Service
The benefits of community gardens can be seen in areas like the Treasure Valley, where rapid development and rising property values are making it more difficult for individuals and families to find affordable housing and access to fresh food.
Here are a few in the greater area:
Meridian Co-op Gardeners
The Meridian Co-op Gardeners maintain a community garden and pollinator garden located in Kleiner Park. This is a collaborative effort with the City of Meridian. 33 families garden together and share in the harvest. They share in the labor and joy of watching the gardens grow. They are dedicated to growing locally grown and high-quality produce and committed to helping those who lack adequate food resources. The food from the garden helps provide healthy food to feed our families and works to reduce their food bills. They also help feed families in our community that struggle with food security. Excess food is donated to local food banks.
The Canyon Springs Outreach Garden
Our community garden has been evolving since our first vision in the Fall of 2018 and our partnership with Trinity Community Gardens Inc. began. Due to all the wonderful people we have met thru the Treasure Valley Community Gardens Cooperative (TVCGCoop), Canyon County Extension, and others, we are currently focused on supporting our community in the following ways:
- Provide a Gardeners Co-op for all people and ages, where we garden, learn, and share the harvest.
- Host Junior Master Gardener Programs and adult & children gardening and food preservation classes in the garden and our local community.
- Grow, glean, and deliver fresh produce and herbs to our local food banks and others in our community facing food insecurity.
- Grow and deliver flowers for seniors & others in need.
A few gardens with available gardening spaces:
Surprise Valley Garden
In partnership with Eastwind Community Church.
Cultivating 1 acre with sections available for community members!
The Corner Garden
Connected through Meridian Calvary Chapel Church.
A brand new location, co-op garden space, open to public co-op gardeners!
Grow More Good Garden
A Co-op Community garden during much of the growing season and serves as a school garden during the school year. Partnered with One Stone High School and St. Stephens Episcopal Church. Located on Cole Rd. near Northview. Still seeking one or two co-op community gardeners for the 2023 season!
You can locate gardens near you by visiting this map provided and maintained by the Treasure Valley Community Gardens Cooperative:
You can connect with this local grass-roots effort via Facebook here!
Please note, space availability and gardening methods can vary, but now is a good time to learn more!
Weighing out the benefits? You may be able to volunteer at a garden to learn more about some of your options. It’s a great way to start!
Shared garden areas benefit the community that surrounds them by providing green spaces that improve the feeling of an entire neighborhood. In some regions, it is common practice for property owners to offer community garden spaces at a rate of $2 per year. Considering the amount of invested energy and resources involved in creating and holding these spaces, it would make sense to provide them for a minimum of five years. This helps to establish a stable environment for gardeners to cultivate their crops and encourages a long-term commitment to the project.
Adaptability in Our Changing Climate
In addition to the social benefits, community gardens also offer environmental benefits. Growing food using organic principles reduces our carbon footprint by eliminating the need for transportation and packaging of produce. They can serve as great places to encourage regenerative practices, such as composting and water conservation. Such gardens can provide sources of biodiversity that can help combat the loss of pollinators and other essential species.
Community gardens are a great way to promote sustainability, build community, and learn valuable gardening skills. If you have been considering joining or starting a community garden, now is a great time to get involved.
Visit the Treasure Valley Community Gardens Cooperative via FB to find, or list a community garden near you and get started on your gardening journey. If you are located outside of the Treasure Valley, check out the American Community Garden Association website to locate a garden near you!
*We changed our method of tracking what kind of organizations are applying for our Community Seeds between 2022 and 2023, allowing for multiple selections. This helps broaden our understanding of the work some organizations are doing. Some are offering multiple services in their communities including, for example, educational community gardens, seed libraries, school gardens, and seed swaps.