Community gardens

Program basics

  • Plots of land owned by local governments, non-profits, or other groups that are dedicated as a gardening space for public use on a membership basis
  • Often converted from vacant lots, allowing cities to make use of neglected land
  • Aim to boost access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables, reduce food insecurity, obesity, mental health
  • Intend to increase sense of community, improve neighborhood safety, and encourage physical activity

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)

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Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps


Target population

Community-wide

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • May impact fruit and vegetable access and consumption and other healthy eating, physical activity, obesity, and mental health/social connectedness issues
  • May improve neighborhood property values and safety

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Community gardens often struggle to receive adequate funding, participation, land, and materials, including water access.
  • When possible, community garden planners should establish and secure garden space by integrating community gardens into urban park systems.
  • Materials such as seedlings and compost should be distributed to communities.
  • Experts recommend cover crops to improve soil quality and nutrients, soil testing and guidance, and perennial plants to provide habitats for non-pest insects.
  • Vertically grown crops can produce higher-yield harvests.
  • Legislation can be enacted to allow cities and counties to create incentive zones in urban areas, providing landowners with a property tax break for urban agriculture or community gardening activities.
  • Public and nonprofit partnerships can be created, including partnerships with land banks that donate property or help develop community gardens.
  • Organized groups of gardeners can use education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing to preserve and create community gardens.
  • Community gardens can serve as spaces for educational programming, which should be provided in multiple languages for diverse populations.

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