The Value of Community Gardens: Health Impact

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about community gardens? You may be picturing a patch of land dedicated to growing fruits and veggies collaboratively, or a collection of individual plots. And you would be correct. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see much more than plants, these spaces are about opportunity. Community gardens have positive impacts on the culture, economy, environment, as well as social and health benefits.

Access to Fresh, Healthy Food

The beauty of community gardens is the access to fresh, seasonal produce. UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County’s Community Gardens Program assists low-income communities in the county to develop self-sustaining (food producing) community gardens, to improve quality of life. Plus, by growing your own food, you can contribute to food security and nourish your body with healthy dietary options. Talk about the fruit of your labor! For many, these gardens serve as lifelines, empowering individuals who need to supplement their diets with healthy food options.

Community gardens provide members with an opportunity to reduce expenses while nourishing families with fresh, homegrown produce. By cultivating this produce, individuals can improve their health and gain a sense of self-sufficiency. This is a way to help people have access to clean, fresh food despite economic circumstances.

Enhanced Food Diversity

Community gardens give gardeners the opportunity to grow and harvest a wide selection of plants. From heirloom tomatoes to herbs, these green spaces celebrate diversity in all its forms. By cultivating seasonal fruits, veggies, and flowers, community gardens contribute to culinary creations, cultural appreciation, health benefits, and dietary support within the community.

Food from the Source

If you’re new to gardening and considering getting involved in your nearby community garden, don’t fret, UF/IFAS Extension provides educational sessions to help you to keep your plants in tip top shape.

Our County Extension Director, Dr. Whitney Elmore and Community Gardens Program Manager, Chris Carreiro, are the reason these spaces are possible and provide educational opportunities that cover the skills needed to succeed. Dr. Elmore is passionate about the impact of community gardens and is an advocate of their presence in the community.

Garden member raking a garden bed. Photo courtesy of Chris Carreiro.

Improve your Diet

When people join in, they not only learn how to grow their own plants but also end up eating more of the fruits and vegetables they have grown. This is really important because it can help fight off health issues like diabetes and heart disease, which can become an issue when people don’t have access to healthy food.

Conclusion

In conclusion, community gardening offers numerous health benefits by providing access to fresh, nutritious food, encouraging physical activity, reducing stress, and fostering a sense of community, while decreasing food costs. By participating in community gardens, individuals can improve their overall well-being while also contributing to the health and vitality of their neighborhoods.

Supervising agent: Dr. Whitney Elmore County Extension Director, Urban Horticulture Agent

Have a question?

If you have any questions about gardening in Central Florida, please contact the UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County at 352-518-0156. For more information on UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County Community Gardens, and how you can join one, visit http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/pasco/.

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Julia Sirchia, Program Assistant at UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County
Posted: May 9, 2024


Category: Crops, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Health & Nutrition, Home Management, Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Central Florida, Community Garden, Community Gardens, Eating, Florida Friendly Landscaping, Food, Fresh Fruit And Vegetables, Garden, Gardening, Gardens, Goals, Health, Healthier, Healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Snacks, Horticulture, Landscape, Landscaping, Nutrition, Produce, Resilient Landscaping, UF/IFAS Pasco Extension Office, Vegetables


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