When I bike by the community gardens just north of my house I can’t help but slow down to see what the farmers are harvesting or what new plants are sprouting up. The fields of green plants are a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Now, lawmakers are catching on to the community garden craze and are taking promising steps to promote the urban havens. U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee of Washington just introduced HR 3225: The Community Gardens Act of 2009 to “establish community gardens, promote healthy lifestyles and educate and train the public on the importance and value of community gardening.” Meanwhile, Rep. Doris Matsui of California introduced a resolution supporting the goals and ideals of National Community Gardening Awareness Month.
It’s surprising how many benefits can come from digging in the dirt. Mark Francis, a professor at the University of California at Davis said that community gardens strengthen a sense of community and promote socializing between neighbors in an article on the American Community Garden Association's website. I can attest to that. Growing up, I helped my mom in the garden after dinner and would often stay out there until after dark talking to neighbors or strangers passing by who were interested in what we were planting. The Nova Scotia Environmental Network reports that community gardens also beautify neighborhoods, increase property values and help supply nutritious, fresh and affordable produce to urban residents. Eco-conscious ears will perk up to hear that parks and gardens in urban areas help keep city air clean and filter rainwater before it heads back to streams and lakes.
Support community gardens? Check out the representatives who are co-sponsoring Inslee’s bill and let your legislator know that you would like to see their name on the list. Or, to find the community garden nearest you visit www.communitygarden.org.