The number of apartment complexes offering community gardens is “growing” across the country. Community gardens are a wonderful addition because they promote community involvement and resident engagement. Community gardens can improve the quality of life of those involved by stimulating social interaction, beautifying the neighborhood, and producing nutritious food. They can also help reduce the family food budget and provide a great opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy and education. Adding a composting area could provide fertilizer for the community’s garden or landscaping and reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill.
Residents at Greystar’s Versailles Apartments in Towson, MD, created a community garden to celebrate Earth Day. The garden is small, only 8’ by 4’, but it has become a great new amenity that is both fun and contributes to a healthier lifestyle. They have grown tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and strawberries. They involved the children in the community by giving them seeds to plant, allowing them to do the watering and picking, and educating them on a sustainable lifestyle. The garden was a hit and it really brought the community together. They’ve recently added a composting bin to promote organic gardening and they plan to add another garden this year with a “three sisters” section planted with corn, beans and squash.
One of the many advantages of community gardens is that they are easy to start, only require a small plot of land, and are inexpensive to build and operate. Just find a group of residents at your apartment community who would be interested in starting a garden and discuss the project with the community management team. They can help locate a suitable area and perhaps provide some of the labor or help from the property’s local landscaper. You may also need a small amount of money to get started, so be prepared to hold a fundraiser, if necessary.
It’s easy to box in each area of the garden with simple wooden frames. Then set up separate areas for each type of produce and plantings. Some of the residents in your group may want to grow flowers, while others may want to grow herbs. For example, Woodmoor Apartments in Austin, TX installed a community garden, and residents planted chives, basil, mint, and thyme. When everything is planted, just add water and sit back and watch it grow.
Check out these tips for growing your own community garden, including great ways to educate kids about gardening.