Community gardens have existed in the UK for hundreds of years. These incredible green spaces have strengthened the resilience of local communities to shocks such as the Second World War, where community allotments played a key role in improving food security by providing affordable fresh fruit and vegetables.
From the late 1960s, a contemporary community gardening movement surfaced with a strong interest in incorporating green spaces into cities, transforming vacant sites into green spaces such as vegetable plots and flower gardens. Since, urban community gardens have been springing up all across the country, benefiting the environment by creating habitats for biodiversity to flourish, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of the community. By alleviating the impact of food deserts in low-income areas, they provide the community with food that will enable them to adopt a nutritious diet and lead a healthier life. Many different groups of people come together to form these spaces- corporations, social service organizations and neighbourhood groups amongst these.
It is likely that rising living costs, coupled with a constantly developing appreciation of sustainable living will continue to bolster the popularity of community gardens. Heading out of the turmoil wreaked by Covid-19, resilience has become the new buzzword shining an even greater spotlight on community gardens as key in building back from the pandemic. As the UK moved into lockdown in March 2020, panic-buying stripped supermarket shelves of perishable and non-perishable goods- a YouGov poll found that 50% of the 8.1 million people facing food insecurity in the UK could not obtain the food they needed because of shortages. Despite unclear government advice at the time, many community gardens in urban areas stepped up as emergency food providers, donating food to local residents in need.
Community gardens unite different generations and cultures, bridge divides between ethnic, political and socio-economic groups and provide a safe space for the community to enjoy and cherish. They are a fantastic working example of how collective action is essential when it comes to initiating meaningful change and safeguarding the future health and wellbeing of both society and the environment.