Tackling Community Food Security Through Gardening

From community gardens to gardening groups, working together to grow food makes for a more secure community.

Female and male environmentalists harvesting vegetables at urban farm
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Food security is a pressing issue of our time, and unfortunately, it is something that many communities lack. In both developed and developing nations, there is huge fragility in food systems, and both agriculture and food networks leave a lot to be desired.

Food security is not just about the availability of fresh, local produce, though in many areas, a lack of access to food is indeed part of the problem. It is about an overall lack of security and sustainability in the food-producing and food-distribution industries.

We may think that we have food readily available where we live and be used to being able to pick up whatever we need from the store.

But often, there is only a very thin line between security and insecurity when it comes to food, and it may not take much before the producers and the supply chains upon which we depend are cut off. There can be significant fragility within the systems upon which we depend for the food that ends up on our plates, and we ignore that fragility at our peril.

Tackling food security is something that needs to be done at all levels—from government and businesses to communities, households, and individuals. At the community level, grass-roots gardening movements can be the most effective tools we have to change things for the better.

Many around the world are successfully tackling community food security through gardening, and each of us can learn from their example to improve things for our own communities.

Community Gardens & Allotments

Of course, the first and most obvious way that communities can take charge of their own food production and ensure greater food security is by cooperating and collaborating to grow that food together.

Community gardens can take a wide range of different forms and make use of many different areas of land, both large and small. Community growing spaces of all kinds can bring people together to solve many of the different problems that a particular community might face.

Even the most initially unpromising or urban spaces can potentially, with the right approach and design, become valuable and productive garden spaces.

From street-side verges and city parks to municipal grounds, rooftops, and brownfield sites, there is plenty of potential to create many, many more community gardens and allotment spaces around the globe.

And each new community garden means more local, fresh, seasonal food and a greater connection between that community and the food that they grow. Ultimately, each new community garden space is a blow against food insecurity.

Garden Sharing

Group of people planting seedlings in a sustainable lifestyle
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Those who are lucky enough to have their own gardens can also fight for community food security—not only securing food security for themselves and their own household but also potentially sharing the space, the produce grown, or other resources with others in their communities.

Those of us who have garden space should make the most of it. Of course, life often gets in the way, and some simply feel they do not have the time or energy for much gardening.

Working towards positive outcomes for a community, however, even those who don't have the time or ability to grow their own might share their garden with those who can garden it in return for a share of the produce.

Garden sharing is one of the key ways in which communities can potentially overcome the challenges of finding local land for food production.

Gardening Groups & Knowledge Sharing

Even when the individuals in a community work mostly alone—growing food for themselves and their families—there are still many benefits derived by the community as a whole.

Individual gardeners can also help their communities with food security even if they do not share the produce they grow. They can potentially help simply by sharing their time, knowledge, and gardening skills.

Local gardening groups of all kinds can be extremely beneficial in tackling community food security because they help to disseminate the skills needed for food production through neighborhoods. And, simply put, they get people growing.