Community gardens are dedicated plots of land where residents can grow food or other plants. Garden plots may be
funded by private or public funds, and they may be temporary or permanent. Community gardens provide a space for
people to grow their own food and for the community to work collaboratively.
Community gardens can increase food access for low-income people by increasing their ability to grow food.
Research out of Oregon shows that people who
participate in community gardens eat more fruits and vegetables and worry less about running out of food
before the end of the month.
Most community gardens have predetermined plots available for adoption by residents interested in tending a
plot. There are often conditions that community gardeners must meet to keep their plot. For example, gardeners
might be required to tend to their plot twice a week during the growing season. The operating group, such as the
city or nonprofit organization providing the land or funding, may determine the rules of the garden.
Community gardens require planning and coordination between private and public resources as well as investments
in adequate tools and training. This model is often combined with other models, such as food policy groups, to
make implementation easier. Food policy groups can create local policies that encourage the use of open land for
gardening or food production. Educational components, such as classes that teach people how to cook and preserve
produce, can help people effectively use their garden produce.
Examples of Community Garden Programs
Grow Appalachia aims to improve food security in the
Appalachian region by increasing citizens' abilities to grow more food. The program started in 2009 with
four partner sites and now operates in 31 sites across the region. Each site is operated by a partner
organization, and Grow Appalachia provides funding, equipment, and training to help create and manage
personal gardens. The program focuses on reaching as many families as possible with its partner
organizations. In total, the program has helped over 6,000 families and grown over 3 million pounds of food.
Grow Appalachia also encourages plots to donate food to local emergency food resources and connects growers
to farmers markets to help growers build marketing and entrepreneurial skills.
Resources to Learn More
Funding resource designed to help community food projects, particularly those in low-income communities, achieve
self-sufficiency and sustainable food security.
Organization(s): National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; U.S. Department of Agriculture
Community Garden App
Free community garden management software that simplifies and streamlines the administrative tasks associated
with operating a community garden.
Community Garden Toolkit
Detailed guide to implementing a community garden.
Organization(s): Louisville Grows