Community Gardens: The New Victory Gardens in a Public Crusade
2013 | Download
Community gardens have long been a recognized strategy to address food shortages. From the victory gardens that supported war efforts and fed Americans during WWII, to First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House garden that launched her Let’s Move Campaign, to the flourishing plots in low income areas with otherwise limited access to healthy food (food desertsi ), community gardens provide nourishment in a number of important ways. Local gardens not only improve much-needed access to healthy food, but they also encourage cross cultural and intergenerational bonds and provide opportunities for civic participation. Community gardens can support health equity at the grassroots level. In low income areas, communities of color and immigrant communities, gardeners can grow produce that is part of a traditional diet, often much healthier than choices at fast food restaurants or convenience stores.
But how do projects like community gardens, which improve individual and community health, sustain when grants end and budget cuts reduce staff and resources? In the case of three California Healthy City and Communities grantees, the answer has been through building and strengthening partnerships, fostering community participation, and changing the way business is done by adapting systems and enacting policies.
This brief highlights three California cities, Willits, Delano and Oceanside, which have implemented community gardens through these principles and practices.