Community Gardens

Beyond the benefits of free, fresh produce, community gardens offer participants self-sufficiency, education, community engagement, stress relief, exercise, and an engagement and understanding of food systems. The City of Richmond currently lists six community gardens on their government website, included in the Richmond Grows Gardens, an element of the Green Richmond Initiative. These are not the only urban plots available for public use in the city (VCU has their own garden, available to students and faculty, and Tricycle Gardens is a nonprofit that operates three community gardens under their umbrella), and the website map also indicates areas where there is space for future gardens. As mentioned when discussing food deserts and food insecurity, lack of access to cheap or free public transportation strands many people without a healthy, affordable source of food. When the closest options are fast food restaurants are convenience stores, those are what will be used first for sustenance. An increased amount of community gardens could offer a nutrient rich alternative to processed, calorie rich foods. Growing and maintaining a plot also promotes the awareness of what you are putting in your body, how it affects your health, and how to prepare and consume the fruits (literally) of your labor. Extra food can be donated to local food banks, further connecting the members of a community and increasing neighbor support. To supplement the Prescription Produce Plan, Shalom Farms could include a few city gardens to educate partners about growing practices and plant the seeds (again, literally and figuratively) for a project that can then be passed into the hands of the surrounding community to maintain independently.

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