Making the decision to grow your own food is one of the healthiest decisions you can make. The food is nutritious. You can choose to grow it organically. And gardening is great exercise. Since our family began our vegetable garden a few years ago, I’ve been a strong advocate of finding ways to grow your own food in any way you can. But what if you live in town and don’t have space for a vegetable garden?
If you’re interested in growing your own food but don’t have the space, community gardens may be the right thing for you.
A community garden is garden space, usually in urban areas, that people can rent or borrow during a season in order to grow a garden. As more people across the country are working to find ways to provide more food for themselves, community gardens have become quite popular nationally, and some community gardens have waiting lists for people wanting to rent some affordable and convenient growing space.
Fortunately, in the Bangor area, there are several community garden opportunities if you live in town, don’t have the space for a garden, and are looking to rent some space. First, however, there are some pros and cons of community gardens to be aware of.
- Community gardens provide space for growing food for people who lack the space or enough sunlight to grow food in their own spaces.
- Many community gardens include tool sharing, which means you may not have to purchase a lot of tools to get started with your garden.
- The rent for a community garden plot can be quite inexpensive in our area, and some will even often free space to children participating in certain programs.
- Community gardens give you a chance to connect with those around you who also share an interest in growing food. You can share seeds, ideas, and learn from each other.
- You do have to get in your car and drive or maybe just walk a bit to your garden plot, depending upon where you live. You won’t have the luxury of just gardening right in your own yard.
- There’s a chance someone could pick your food, but this is actually a risk even in your own yard.
Most do not report many cons to participating in a community garden, and if you don’t have the space in your own yard, clearly the benefits of community gardening outweigh the cons.
In the Bangor area, the Bangor Parks and Recreation’s community garden beds rent for the low cost of $20 for the first bed and $15 for subsequent beds, with a limit of 4 beds per household. Follow this link for more information on getting signed up and for information about the free program for children.
Orono also has a community garden located on Birch Street in Orono, and is operated by the University of Maine. For more information about the garden and to find out if plot are available, check out this link. It looks like you may need to be involved in a sustainability course at the University of Maine to use the space, but that may be an option some are interested in.
Brewer is also working on launching a community garden this year, the Maple Street Community Garden. Phase 1 of construction begins on April 22. 30 beds will be built during that first phase, and you can rent a 2x4x10 bed for $25 or 2 beds for $45. Scholarships are also going to be available. You can find out more at the Maple Street Community Garden’s Facebook page or email Ellen Speirs, garden coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you live in a smaller surrounding community, just give your local town office a call. As the demand for community gardens grows in our area, chances are that more communities will be starting community gardens. And, if you live in an area without a community garden, there are ways to get one started. Check out 10 Steps to Starting a Community Garden to learn more.