If you live in a community that doesn’t have conveniently located full-service grocery stores, you may live in a food desert, and you’re not alone. At least 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts, both in urban and rural areas. This makes it more difficult to access fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. However, there’s good news: starting a community garden in your neighborhood will provide you with fresh produce as well as a healthier lifestyle and a safer, more attractive place to live.
Here are some of the benefits of community gardens:
Make nutritious food easier to access. Community gardens put nutritious food within easy reach for residents in food deserts, which supports a healthy diet. Fresh produce provides essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and even hydration in the human diet. This helps to reduce obesity, improve gastrointestinal and immune health, and strengthen skin, hair, nails, and teeth. Eating fruits and vegetables lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, and prevents some types of cancer.
Curb food insecurity by reducing grocery trips and expenses. Having abundant produce readily available near home can reduce grocery bills for families and provide food options when they are low on groceries. This helps to reduce food insecurity and save money. This was particularly important during the pandemic, when many people suffered economic losses due to unemployment, and remains important today with rising food costs.
Require physical activity that combats obesity. Community gardens promote healthy exercise, both for people pulling weeds and working in the soil, and each time they walk to the garden and home again. A successful garden will inspire locals to walk to it in order to gather produce, as well to check the progress of the items they are growing and to admire the beauty of a flourishing green space.
Bring neighbors together and encourage community pride. Gardening at home can be a great way to spark conversation with your next-door neighbors. When the garden is shared with an entire neighborhood, it provides opportunities for social “cross pollination” with your neighbors from farther away. It also becomes a point of community pride and unity, and can even help to reduce crime.
Helps to decrease anxiety, depression, and other forms of stress. Studies show that working in a garden reduces stress and promote good mental health. This is due in part to the physical activity involved, as well asexposure to fresh air and sunlight, which boosts vitamin D production in the body. Gardening is an excellent creative outlet: yuse plant shapes, colors, and textures to make attractive (and delicious!) designs in your section.
Teaches children and adults an important life skill. Learning any new skill is empowering, and it’s also good for your brain. Learning how to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, and leafy greens is a skill that will serve you well for an entire lifetime. In addition to providing food, exercise, and quality outdoor time, it inspires people to become more resourceful and creative in other areas of their lives. Gardening is a great way to introduce children to science and help them understand ecosystems.
Reduces your carbon footprint and improves the ecosystem. By eliminating the need for long drives and bus rides to full-service grocery stores, community gardens help to reduce fuel costs and emissions. Plant life also helps to absorb carbon dioxide and pollutants while producing oxygen, which means that enough of it can improve air quality in your community. Flowers that attract birds, insects and wildlife can help to promote plant growth and improve biodiversity for a healthy ecosystem.
Help Kids Learn To Garden With BeamUp
High-quality education, healthcare, and other support systems are extremely important for helping young people prepare for a bright future. BeamUp offers programming to help underinvested youth succeed in every aspect of life. Our goal is to provide opportunities for youth and young adults of lower socioeconomic status to equip themselves with the tools needed to lift themselves out of poverty and violence.