Community gardens are key to a greener future. Here's why
Wednesday, September 28, 2016, 9:32 AM - Living greener doesn't have to be a challenge.
In fact, it can be as simple as planting a few seeds.
Community gardens come with several benefits, but what's often overlooked is the positive impact they have on the environment.
Here are four reasons why community gardens are the foundation of a sustainable future.
1. It's simple.
Convenience is the root of almost all of today's technological innovations. According to Rhonda Teitel-Payne, co-coordinator at Toronto Urban Growers, convenience is also the reason community gardens are a great stepping stone into environmental action
"One of the biggest and possibly most overlooked [factors] is that it actually engages people in a doable activity," Teitel-Payne says. [A] lot of environmental issues people feel overwhelmed by, and community gardens are a way for people to contribute something that's doable. And because they're able to contribute something, then they are able to take the next step."
2. You'll be actively engaged in eco-friendly living.
For the most part, community gardens are public spaces. They're opportunities to meet like-minded people and exchange ideas -- a concept that's important when getting entire cities to collectively adapt to environmentally-conscious living.
"[W]hen you're talking about 'greening' a city, you're not just talking about putting plants in the ground. You're talking about getting citizens engaged, getting them feeling like they can take action," Teitel-Payne says.
3. They're a new home for the birds and the bees.
Creating more green space doesn't always mean you're giving pollinators and vital insects a safe new home.
"[But] if you're using organic methods to grow, you're not trying to kill off all the bugs in the garden," Teitel-Payne explains. "[Y]ou're actually trying to encourage the livelihood of beneficial [insects] to help grow your plants."
Naturally, community gardens create an organic habitat for pollinators -- something that's incredibly important as the bee population speedily dwindles. By joining a community garden, you're attracting the right type of flying insects, giving them a place to reproduce and thrive in the long-run.
4. You can feel the difference.
Urban heat island effect (UHI) is common in larger cities. It's when temperatures are higher in largely populated cities than they are in rural areas, due to dense areas of pavement and buildings, along with other heat-retaining surfaces.
But community gardens double as a source for locally grown food and as a cooling agent for UHI, Teitel-Payne says. They help improve the environmental efficiency of a city, and with enough community gardens, the benefits are easy to notice.
"Storm water control is another issue for cities. What to do with all the water that's running off of the pavement and going directly into the sewer systems, carrying all kinds of toxins with it?" Teitel-Payne adds. "[Well], the more green space there is, the more that water gets filtered through the ground. So if you have more community gardens, you're going to have more space where that purification of water happens."