As Backyards Shrink, Community Gardens Grow
As we move closer to the city and trade houses for apartments, how can we still get some green space?
As population studies confirm, our cities are becoming denser and standard housing block sizes are getting smaller. Suburban blocks can range anywhere from 200 sqm to 350sqm (or roughly half what they were 30 years ago).
This is where community gardens come in. These dedicated gardens help people living in apartments or small townhouses to reconnect with the environment and even harvest their own food.
In a recent interview for ABC Radio Brisbane, Arbor Operations’ Peter Mumford said these open spaces are becoming increasingly popular and have multiple environmental, social and health benefits for the wider community.
“We live in modern cities that are evolving, urban encroachment is pushing allotment sizes down which means there is less space to get back to nature and grow your own vegetables,” Mr Mumford said.
“By having these open spaces, it also helps brings back the village vibe that many inner-city suburbs have been in danger of losing,” he said.
“You only need to look around these growth areas to see where there was once one house there is now two and where there was two there are now apartment blocks to realise the traditional backyard for many is becoming a thing of the past.”
In Hong Kong, as realtors are doing a fine trade in micro-apartments, which have a total floor area of about 26m2, the need for community and rooftop gardens are on the increase. In the city alone, kale, cherry tomatoes, radishes, and all kinds of herbs are blossoming atop commercial and residential buildings. Farmers can surmount space restrictions and make the city a more pleasant home for its urban dwellers.
“In Brisbane alone, there are over 30 community gardens and city farms providing a local place for residents with a common interest to meet and grow their own food.” Said Peter Mumford.
“There are also well-documented health benefits, with studies showing being out with nature for just 20 minutes can reduce the stress cortisol by 13 per cent, while digging around in the dirt has been found to help treat depression.”
“These green spaces provide all the benefits of having a garden without paying big bucks to own a big allotment.”
“As well as affordability, many people are also too time poor to have the time needed to dedicate to mow the lawn or look after a large garden on their own.”
“These dedicated green spaces give residents a chance to grow their food in an organic way that’s just not possible with mass-produced produce.” Peter said.
Brisbane Community Garden
With city farms already established across Brisbane; they can be found in many different environments including on school or church grounds, at community centres and in parks.
“But it’s now more than ever they’re growing in popularity as people sacrifice space and the traditional backyard for being closer to cities and their amenities.”
“But what’s great about this is as well as getting people outdoors it acts as a community building activity, allowing like-minded people to come together on neutral ground to experience nature in a productive way.” Peter said.
Click here to download your free Community Garden Guide to see how to start, maintain and get the most out of a community garden.
Do you have a question for Peter, or want to learn more about community gardens?