If you’ve ever tilled a weed-packed lawn, raked your backyard, or placed a tiny lettuce seed into a narrow groove in the dirt, you’ve experienced the therapeutic benefits of gardening first-hand. Community Gardens are growing, and offering these benefits to more town and city dwellers each year. There are over 20,000 active community gardens in the U.S. today. They stimulate social interaction, beautify neighborhoods and even reduce crime, creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education. This time of year, a community garden can even reduce heat by cooling city streets and parking lots.
By some jolt of fortuitousness I met Shelly a few weeks ago when I was tending our school garden – we were immediately simpatica. She’s been gardening at the Nyack Community Garden for a few years now, and generously offered to give me a tour of the garden and tell me about the goings on there. Getting beyond the chain-link fence to look at the plants up close was a thrill for me. (In fact, some of these photos were taken last year by poking my camera lens through the fence!) The plots were impressive, abundant, diverse and creative.
Many of the gardeners, like Shelly who has gorgeous tomatoes, lettuce and basil, use black weed guard around their plants. Others, who lean toward organic, use straw.
Some incorporate décor and sculpture.
Some strictly grow vegetables.
Some mix flowers in.
If I could "pick" one thing here, it would have to be this awesome Savoy cabbage. I included the shed in the back so you could see the scale.
These cool-looking gourds (bitter melon?) were grown on a wooden trellis in the corner.
For people who don’t have access to yards, or have yards that are too small or shady to grow certain things (healthy vegetables require at least 6 hours of full sun), this is a great opportunity.