Urban areas around the country are being enriched through community gardens. In many cases, these beautiful, bountiful urban gardens sustain the gardener and add much-needed green space, and support residents who suffer from food insecurity.
The Highland Park Community Garden is a fantastic community garden known as an allotment garden.
The Highlands Park Community Garden, located in a historic suburban-like neighborhood in the northeastern part of Pittsburgh, was established more than fifty years ago by immigrants from Italy. They brought seeds from their region and started gardens containing tomatoes, garlic, squash, broccoli rabe, and fig trees (symbol of adaptation).
The Highland Park Community Garden is large, containing roughly 40 parcels approximately 25’ x 25’ in size.
The urban garden is captivating to see, with its varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers growing throughout the beds. The tall sunflowers, zinnias, milkweed, morning glories, pumpkins, tomatoes, corn, raspberry shrubs, and other medleys add so much color. In addition to the raised beds, arches, and trellis structures that support them, several water spouts are available and an area to compost.
Individuals and family gardeners, novice or experienced, can rent or adopt specified areas to grow their food within the community garden.
The process is pretty simple, requiring the agriculturist to sign up, sign an agreement to follow garden rules, maintain the garden plot, and pay a nominal fee for three years to the City of Pittsburgh. Availability of these small spaces varies throughout the year and may have waiting lists.
Gardeners who participate are known for making their produce available for residents to take as needed. Neighbors helping neighbors, truly inspiring!
An excellent resource that provides information about the value of community and urban gardens is Grow Pittsburgh, a 501c3 charitable nonprofit organization.
According to Grow Pittsburgh, community gardens deliver the following benefits to the city:
- Reduces food insecurity
- Attracts and repairs habitats for pollinators
- Eliminates food deserts
- Improves on the idea of essential nutrition from growing fresh fruit and vegetables
- Teaches individuals and families how they can save money on their food bill as a 10×20 foot lot could produce up to $700 annually
- A community garden is a gathering place for people to come together with the shared interest in growing their food
If you live in an urban area and want to get involved in creating a community garden, contact your city’s Department of Public Works. Read our blog, “We Need to Focus Sustainability on Cities,” to learn more ways to improve urban life.