If your backyard or balcony isn’t an ideal growing spot, or if you want to supplement the bounty of your home garden with greater variety, consider joining a community garden.
“The biggest benefit [of community gardening] for me is the sharing of the workload,” says Paul Kimball, who runs the Emerson Community Garden in the Emerson-Garfield neighborhood alongside his wife Sara. “I really only have to garden a couple weeks a season. Another benefit is that networking with neighbors provides a wider base of knowledge. This last year we had one member who had expert knowledge on composting.”
Community gardens come in as many flavors as the crops they produce. Some allow individuals or families to claim one or more plots, which are then tended and harvested separately. Others have a large shared space that is maintained and harvested collectively. Some charge a membership fee; some are free. Some require participants to invest a minimum amount of time in upkeep; others share the yield with anyone who shows up. No matter your preference, there’s probably a nearby community garden for you.
The relative advantages of community over private gardening are manifold. An obvious one is that they provide more opportunities to socialize — especially come late summer, when harvest time can blossom into a neighborhood-wide event. And community gardens have the advantage of being larger than many backyards. That means more room for space-hungry crops like corn and pumpkins.
“The biggest joy comes from meeting neighbors and building friendships,” says Kimball. “Our motto for the Emerson Community Garden is ‘Neighborhood Roots, Garden Fruits.’”
There are about two dozen easy-to-find community gardens in the Inland Northwest. To locate one, visit www.greenspokane.org or get in touch with your neighborhood council.