Meteoric urbanization in India provokes a massive rural population to migrate to the cities for seeking employment and education. Whopping expansion of the cities has subjected the city dwellers into an unhealthy environment and lifestyle. Starting a community garden can succor the urban poor with their livelihood and add some green cover in the area.
What is a community garden?
A community garden is a small parcel of land on which volunteers from your community having green fingers can grow and harvest plants. Community gardening is done on either private property or a common land while harvesting diverse varieties of fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants to improve the ecosystem of a community.
Community garden is a great concept that can co-exist in both rural and urban India. It can provide a livelihood to the villagers and they don’t have to migrate to the cities seeking employment. It brings together children, adults, and the youth to participate in adorning the neighborhood and getting close to nature in highly urbanized cities where pollution is at its peak.
How does it work?
Community gardens are similar to parks where the community members plant their own crops. The gardens are supported by different organizations like members from a community, apartment complex committee, a particular company, gardening and horticulture societies or a group of ecologists. A community garden is an organic establishment where you have to take care of the crops from weeds and insects, birds and other animals which can damage the crops and pollinate in the area. Administration roles like management, budgeting, and communication are important.
How to start a successful community garden?
Before starting a community garden you have to be aware of the many steps involved in the process. A meeting should be organized with interested people in your neighborhood, apartment complex and gardening societies. Here is how you can start a community garden successfully.
- Establishing a planning committee- A successful community garden is possible only when all the interested members are involved. First, you have to decide who all are going to start the garden. Form rules and duties for the members. Make a list of what is to be done. Prepare a budget and distribute the duties between people in charge.
- Finding a land- The important part is finding suitable land for harvesting. You have to find a public or private land. People in India have come up with the idea of converting a dump yard into a beautiful garden. The government is prioritizing the beautification of the city so you can easily get legal approval.
- Organizing the garden- Before you start cultivation you have to clean the garden and fraction the land according to the type of crops or flowering plants you want to grow into several plots. You have to make space for storing your tools and making compost and also keep pathways between plots.
- Staying connected- Community gardens tie the community together .prepare a list of the managing committee with their contact numbers in the bulletin board. Organize regular meetings and tutorials to encourage the youth. Have gardening shows and exhibitions annually.
Reckoning the Cost:
- Land: The Indian government is keen on providing green space to meet the pollution rates in the urban area so land might cost nothing.
- Soil: The soil in your community might not be hospital for harvesting so a soil test is important. NABARD has suggested a cost-effective model for testing soil samples at Rs 150/-. If the soil is not suitable you can easily prepare your own soil for gardening.
- Equipment: Purchasing gardening equipments like rot tiller and lawn movers could be expensive but you can easily get them for rent at a cheap rate.
- Seeds and fertilizers: Seeds of a variety of seasonal vegetables and fruits are available at a cheap and the cost depends on the land area. You can easily buy seeds and fertilizers from a whole seller at a discounted price.
- Garden tools: Garden tools like shovels, rake, wheelbarrow; pruning shears, weeders, loppers, spake, pickaxe, trowel, watering canes and buckets come with a range of 800-1000 with one-time investment.
- Water supply: It is hard to access PWD water all the time in India. So rainwater harvesting and instillation of a water storage tank cost you around 3000. Plastic water storage tanks cost you around Rs. 8-13 per liter with a maximum capacity of 25000l.
Can Community Gardens Reduce Crimes?
Community gardens can connect people to each other and nature and reduce the crime rate as well. Due to the swift expansion of cities, people are restricted to apartments and the crime has also increased as the urban world is busy working. For many of us, our neighbors are strangers and the culprit is acknowledged with it.
There is an increase in property crimes, crime on senior citizens and children and murder in recent years in India. Most of the culprits are known to the victim and from the same or nearby community. Community gardening brings together people from different sections of the community with different personality and culture to work together and get closer to each other which reduce the crime rate.
When people from neighbourhoods participate in community garden the entire community is benefited. Community gardens achieve various purposes like aesthetic and community improvement, health improvement and soil conservation. Here are a few advantages of community gardening.
- Improves social bonging with people
- Community gardens help beginners to work with and learn from experts different gardening skills.
- Boost physical and mental health
- Enable us to explore mother nature
- Initiate to Practice teamwork
- Provide earning aid to people belonging to below poverty line.
- Provide an opportunity for people in marginalized groups to actively participate and take leadership roles.
- Help to improve the urban ecosystem.
- Enable us to organize and speak for ourselves and our community.
- Provide space to harvest our own food at a low cost.
The decline in agricultural productivity results in the risk of food security as the majority of youth now is disinterested in agriculture. Inflation in the food prices in India has made it impossible for the urban poor to afford it here is where community gardens become relevant.
Community garden makes a city safer in terms of food and economy and renders livelihood to the urban poor. To meet the emerging health risks of pollution is it a great venture to grow fruits and vegetables in the neighborhood that provide health benefits as well as improves socialisation.