Community Gardening Projects
A community garden is a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people. 
On a rooftop of the United Nations headquarters in New York City, the United Nations began to promote food gardens by setting an example and creating a garden in the heart of the city.

In 2015, cooperation between interested members of U.N. delegations and community organizations officially opened the U.N. Food Gardens. These gardens do not only promote international cooperation among U.N. staff but also help promote United Nations sustainable community gardening projects around the world.

They use similar practices as their international developmental counterparts, such as turning food waste into sustainable fertile soil. They also serve as an outreach program. United Nations programs and international charity programs use a similar tactic. By showing a successful garden in one part of a city, town, or village, maybe the idea will be adopted by other communities and countries.

FAO Role in Community Gardening Projects

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is the biggest promoter and leader of the community gardening projects around the world. To promote and spread this idea the instructions of sustaining a successful community garden are accessible on the FAO website.

The instructions are separated into 12 parts. They cover everything from securing funding, motivating the community, planting the correct fruits and vegetable, instructions on how to properly care for them and selling the extra for profit. The most important step is step number 12 that covers the motivation of participants. For teachers, it is recommended that they suggest special days in a season so that the students can look forward to each season. This aims to create a sense of ownership over the garden by giving the children assignments like watering or weeding the garden. It will also give them the knowledge and tools to begin their own garden later in life.

The Example of Dangerendove

FAO community garden projects can be found all around the world. Not only do they help to provide food and income to communities but they have also been able to break down social barriers. In 2014, an article was written about one of the greatest successes of the FAO’s community garden projects. This story occurred in a small town named Dangarendove in Zimbabwe.

The FAO provided over 40,000 farmers, out of which 90 percent were women, on over 800 farms, with seeds and fertilizers. One of the women interviewed for the article describes that the biggest difficulty is not taking care of the garden but keeping up with the demand for their products. Traders come from villages all around to buy their products by the cratefuls. Approximately 200 cratefuls are produced each week earning the village around $3,000.

Due to the success, the men of the village have begun to take part in the gardening process, taking roles and responsibilities that were once delegated only to women. The success of this program demonstrates that providing food and economic security can do much more than just feed the people and provide money.

Latin America and Community Garden Projects

Many other communities are starting to realize the benefits of community garden projects. In Latin America, rapid urbanization of many Latin American countries in the late 20th and in the early 21st century has caused demand for fresh fruits and vegetables to decline. In Brazilian favelas, in large urban communities sometimes called shantytowns, that often lack access to clean water and sewage and have high crime-rates due to lack of employment, the formation of community gardens has begun.

In 2008, the Formiga Favela in Rio de Janeiro was pacified (a term used to refer to favelas that have been returned to government control) and the Formiga community garden projects have been initiated soon after. These projects have not only helped to provide food in this impoverished area but also to provide employment to the people that live in these communities.

Community garden projects are feeding and employing people, but they also improve social equality. However, their biggest impact is that they put power in the hands of individuals.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr