Sustainable Gardening As Community Rehabilitation

Gardening can be a lot more than a hobby – it can actually help us create more healthy and sustainable communities. Here are 3 communities making it happen…

We often think of our gardens as hobbies, a way to provide fresh, healthy food for our families, or a method of reducing our carbon footprint by producing food in our own backyards. But gardening can be much more than that.

While you may never have thought about it this way, gardening can bring sustainability to our communities in several different ways. As the article below points out, “gardens can be valuable social and economic tools in sustainable development.”

The article explains how gardens are being used in communities such as Oakland, San Francisco, and Fort Collins to help individuals transitioning from prison to find meaning and independence in their new communities, reduce teen crime, and recover from drug and alcohol addition.

I bet you never knew gardening was such a powerful thing, but now that you do, spread the word!

Oakland and the World Enterprises is a non-profit organization helping the formerly incarcerated and “others facing extreme barriers to employment” reach financial stability and independence through urban farming. In an agreement with the city of Oakland, the organization developed a parcel of unused land into an urban farm. This farm produces fruits and vegetables that are sold through for-profit businesses run cooperatively by the participants in the financial independence development program. Beyond the business of local farming, these cooperatively-owned, for-profit businesses are planned to expand into the retail, housing, and restaurant industries – all benefiting the participants and helping to revolutionize the recently-degraded community….

Next we have “The Garden Project” in San Francisco: a prisoner rehabilitation and at-risk teen crime prevention program centered on horticulture and organic produce production. In a landscaping contract with the city of San Francisco, ex-inmates and teenagers plant trees (over 10,000 of them so far, at least) and grow food for community consumption, activities which both support a source of income for participants….

In Fort Collins, residents of an intensive drug and alcohol rehabilitation program find independence, empowerment, and therapy in the operation of the Larimer County Community Corrections Center garden. Volunteering in the garden is an optional activity during the residents’ 90-day stay at the rehabilitation facility, which serves as a halfway point for many inmates leaving prison. Those who volunteer have the opportunity to learn intrapersonal communication skills when selling vegetables at a roadside vegetable stand, responsibility for caring for sections of the garden, and the fundamentals of urban gardening….




Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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