The Hardship of Maintaining a Community Garden 

Updated September 10, 2022

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The Hardship of Maintaining a Community Garden  essay

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A community garden is a tool for promoting good nutrition, physical activity, environmental stewardship, social connections, and social entrepreneurship. It covers the three pillars of sustainability, which are environment, social and economy. Community gardens have been in practice since the 18th century, and it has once again caught society’s attention in the 21st century due to the mass loss of greenery caused by urbanization. While some regions do not have issues with food security as they have enough healthy food supplies, some regions still have poor/ limited access to healthy food. A community garden provides fresh, healthy vegetables and fruits for neighborhoods. Besides providing fresh and healthy food, it also cuts down on food miles, which means less CO2 will be emitted into the air, and it brings the community closer which will strengthen social ties among residents. As we can see, the community garden not only covers one aspect of sustainability but three aspects of sustainability. Environment, social and economic aspects. There are plenty of positive impacts that come with the community garden, but there are also hardships that come along with maintaining them. In this essay, I will discuss the downside of a community garden, and how to overcome the hardship associated with it.
First of all, as I have mentioned during the presentation, community gardens benefit the environment in urban areas by providing habitats for pollinators, providing more oxygen/clean air and increases rainwater drainage. However as much as it benefits the environment in urban areas, it is difficult to grow crops in urban areas due to extreme climate. On top of that even though community gardens may increase rainwater drainage, it is not enough to prevent the drought. After all, one of the factors that crops have difficulties surviving in urban areas is because of drought being out of control from time to time. Drought can wash away the soil and the nutrients contained in the soil that are essential for the crops, hence it is important to consider the location and the design of the garden beforehand.
Too much water hinders the crops from growing, so does an insufficient amount of water. The community garden has a limited supply of water, as urban gardens are usually irrigated by the public water systems that are dependent on the water availability of the catchment (Brenda, Monika, Heidi, Shalene & Stacy, 2018). This is problematic for the production of the crops as water is essential, especially in extreme heat. Short term dehydration may not affect the crops in a significant way, however, if the crops are kept deprived of water it can damage the crop in the long term. Urban areas tend to have 5-11-degree Celsius higher temperatures than its surrounding due to urban heat effects and which hinders the productivity of crops (Brenda, Monika, Heidi, Shalene & Stacy, 2018). From these factors that I have mentioned, it is clear that taking care of crops in urban areas is not as easy as we expected. Therefore, the community should be aware of these factors before they start building a garden and planting the crops. A community garden requires careful planning and preparation before implementing the system. Additionally, the community should also regularly check the quality of the crops to make sure that the environment provided satisfy the crops to grow healthily.
Growing the crops in such an extreme climate is difficult, but the community garden is not all about growing the crops. It is also about the ‘community’, about social inclusion. We have this image of a community garden as a very fun activity that we can enjoy together as a community. The truth is, coming together as a community in an urban area to build a garden together, taking care of the crops together is extremely difficult. First of all, we need to get to know people in our neighborhood. Then we have to come to an agreement that we will take care of the garden together as a community, and share the responsibility equally among the members. It sure helps us release our stress if we only do it once or twice a week, but what if the responsibility is more than we expected. It will only be another burden in our daily life. What should people do to avoid complicated conflict within the community? Because conflict will arise from misunderstanding, the unequal share of the crops, unequal time of labor and many more. Perhaps, maintaining a good relationship between the members of the community is much more difficult than growing healthy vegetables or fruits.
The first problem associated with a community garden is that, if not managed well it may result in “the tragedy of the commons”. The tragedy of the commons is an economic theory that describes how people often use natural resources to their advantage without considering the good of a group or society as a whole (Hardin, 1968). This means, when applied to a community garden if it is unregulated, it has the possibility that the shared space will be exploited and it can no longer be used as a garden. Hence, there should be at least one or two people that can act as a leader of the community garden and make sure that everything is under control. A great responsibility comes with being a leader, and it may seem like a burden, however, it is still necessary to have a peaceful community. Perhaps, the community can make its regulation where they change the leader every two months. It is up to the liking of the community.
Another factor that the community should take into consideration is the distribution of responsibility through schedule/shift. If there is no regulation with the shift, some people may not come for a whole month or even longer, leaving their part of the garden messy. This will affect other people in the community, as weeds are going to grow and if it is left for a long period it can spread and start growing in other’s parts of the garden too. Not only weeds, but pests will also increase. As we are trying to be environmentally friendly in community gardens, we do not want to use pesticides. So, if we do not check the crops regularly and remove the pests on the crops, the pests will keep increasing and it will eventually affect other crops too. This will be a great burden for the whole community. Additionally, it will be a waste of space, because space can be used to grow other crops for the community. It will be best if people can visit the garden at least once a week, so that it will not be such a burden to them, and they can enjoy gardening instead of stressing over it with their already stressful, busy schedule.
Most people in urban areas are busy with their work, school and other important activities that they have in the city. Thus, people tend to drop out of gardening. It is understandable; however, it will be problematic if a lot of people keep repeating the practice. This is why the community should make a regulation or events associated with the garden, to make them committed to gardening. Perhaps, paying a deposit to become part of the community might help.
The community gardens have a lot of positive impacts, whether it is for the community or the environment. Sometimes we tend to do something only looking at the bright side without actually considering the downside or the risk that comes with it. To have an impulse of doing something good for the environment or the community is an excellent attitude, yet if we do not plan it carefully before actually acting on it, we might harm the environment or the community itself. I have learned that no matter how good or helpful we want to be, there will always be a consequence that comes with it. Though, it will be endless if we count how many things will turn out to have a negative impact. Therefore, instead of trying to count an endless possibility, I believe that we should understand the concept fully so that we will know what kind of consequence will follow. Then we can try to minimize the negative impact that will come with our actions.
I believe that I’m one of those persons who will eventually only come to the garden once a month because of my packed schedule. However, if I think about the community and how I put a burden on them, that will push myself to go and take care of my part of the garden. However, I understand that not everyone thinks the way I do and feel the way I do. That is when I understand that making the community come together as one is extremely difficult. Because there are various people with different personalities and values that have to work together to maintain the garden in good quality. We might assume that people who join the community garden must have the same vision. But the truth is, even within the same community, the vision may vary. Therefore, we should not only understand how to make a great ‘garden’ but also understand how to treat people correctly in the ‘community’.
In conclusion, there are some hardships that people who join community gardens have to face, but there is always a solution to it. Thus, not only people should learn how to grow a vegetable properly, but they should learn how to socialize within the community. I do believe that having a community garden in an urban area is a great idea because people in urban areas are so busy with their life that, as time goes, they forgot the way of socializing. This will be a great opportunity to release stress from office work and remind us of the beauty of working as a community and socializing with people face to face.


  1. Erin, B. (2016). Community gardens were all the rage…in the 1700s. Retrieved from https://daily.jstor.org/community-gardens-were-all-the-ragein-the-1700s/Lin, B. B., Egerer, M. H., Liere, H., Jha, S., & Philpott, S. M. (2018). Soil management is key to maintaining soil moisture in urban gardens facing changing climatic conditions. Scientific reports, 8(1), 17565. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-35731-7
  2. The Tragedy of the Commons. (2017, September 11). Retrieved from https://www.learning-theories.com/the-tragedy-of-the-commons.html.
  3. Williams, C. (2017, November 21). Water Deprivation & Plants. Retrieved from https://homeguides.sfgate.com/water-deprivation-plants-63694.html.
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How can a community garden be successful?
Here are four essential ingredients of a successful community garden. A place to gather. A comfortable, shaded seating area provides space for shared meals, meetings, classes, performances, and casual conversations. A place for children. A communication kiosk. Ample signage.
What are 3 benefits of a community garden?
Here's a closer look at 7 of the major benefits of community gardening. Beautifying the Landscape. Making Fresh Produce Accessible. Promoting Healthier Lifestyles. Cleaning up the Environment. Building Stronger Communities. Opportunities for Learning. Relieving Stress and Increasing Wellness.
What is a disadvantage of a community garden?
Personality clashes are among the problems with community gardens. When people work closely together there are bound to be differences of opinion, jealousy, and other negative effects. Small conflicts can be exacerbated by cultural differences. 26 Sept 2017
Why is it important to have a community garden?
Community gardens allow for the creation of social ties and build a greater feeling of community . These connections help reduce crime, empower residents and allow residents to feel safe in their neighborhoods. Many cities and organizations provide opportunities for residents to become involved with community gardens.
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