Urban gardens began with the very first cities. A city obviously cannot survive without food. The practice continues today even though modern conveniences allow all our food to be shipped in from neighboring area farms. Once you taste a tomato grown with your own love and labor, store-bought is no longer acceptable.
One major concern tends to prevent people from having a garden, no land. Residential real estate is expensive enough, who has funds to invest in an extra gardening lot? That’s where land trusts come into play. In Chicago, Neighborspace is a community land trust that helps communities acquire and own land for gardening and neighborhood beautification. They also provide tools to assist with management and long-term funding. Eighty-one neighborhood gardens work with Neighborspace.
These community gardens are bringing together neighbors, creating bonds and serving as a way to move past differences and conflicts. Friendships and bonds are blossoming with the flowers and plants, corny but true! In some areas, available land is scarce so people are transforming side yards and open land next to roads that were once just lawns. It is revitalizing underutilized property. In others, entire lots are taken over as gardens.
Similar programs exist in New York City with the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, Bronx Land Trust and the Manhattan Land Trust. If your neighborhood has any vacant land, any citizens can approach the city and inquire about beginning its transformation into a garden. It’s a great and easy way to add a little more nature to your life.