Apr 3, 2012

Community Building Through Gardening

by Operation Pure Harvest 122

Many of the benefits of community gardening are obvious.  Spending time outdoors helps clear the mind and exercise the body.  Planting non-genetically modified seeds yields healthier food and pulls the plug from a thoughtless support of food industries that only care about profits.  Finally, fruits and vegetables grown in one’s “backyard” can help save quite a bit of money. 

There is one aspect to community gardening, however, that is often overlooked.  Such gardens have the capacity to serve as community builders by bridging the gaps experienced by different sub-groups of people.  Otherwise, it is likely that these folks would never work together under different circumstances.  The common desire and need for food and for connecting with the land can lead to an authentic unity.  This unity can be the result of members moving beyond their respective comfort zones without having to deny their identity.

This kind of community building effort is critical at a place like P.S. 122.  Our school is made up of many different sub-groups or communities.  For example, within our building we have an elementary school as well as a middle school population of students.  In addition, we have students that attend general, special, and gifted education programs.   Also, our school has many students that are English Language Learners (ELLs).   We should not forget that all schools are made up of students and adults.  The sub-group of adults is comprised of the faculty and other staff as well as the parents that send their children to our school.

As you can imagine, our future community garden can help bring all of these sub-groups together.  We can enjoy spending time getting to know each other while doing the physical work involved with growing some delicious food for our school’s consumption.  One of the many outcomes of working in each other’s presence will be the development of a mutual understanding and respect.  Ultimately, the lives of everyone involved will be enriched and the school as a whole will be nourished in more ways than one.

Check out the following links if you are interested in learning more about the community building potential of group gardening:


  1. I really agree with the idea of unity that these community gardens bring. When people work for something out of curiosity on things like gardens, they will get unexpected results and, instead of thinking of the garden as a nuisance, they will really learn the first step to the meaning of "hard work" and "earning your living" first hand. Who knows, people may find themselves working well with others that they have never thought of working with before. Just feel the relief that you could raise a plant, and the satisfaction that you have fulfilled a wonderful and voluntary responsibility!

  2. I agree with the fact that we need to have a better built community outside of school. I wonder if there is some sort of relationship between gardeners, and their type of personality. If they are more to themselves, or ike to frm as a community as a whole.

  3. I believe that a community garden is a great way for different people to work together. This way they can be active citizens, enjoy having the experience of gardening, and have nutritive food grown from their own two hands. As the article said, different sub groups that normally don't communicate will work together, learning a thing or two from each other that might be vital to the garden. As they say, two heads are better than one, meaning if we all work together, the garden will flourish. All in all, this great impact that projects like the garden we have at ps122, can greatly impact the community and all of its member's lives. (We could make a survey for all who have participated in the production of ps122's garden and from that data we could clearly support this statement and later use this as a gateway for members outside the school, making this garden strive to success.)

    ~Raisa Alam

  4. I agree with the post and I also believe that it is a good idea to use the garden to bring people together. I think using the garden, we can bring people from all walks of life (like the sub-groups mentioned) and understand each other. I think there might be a relationship between the amount of people helping with the garden and the level of disrespect in our school. I think that since people would start to understand people better, the amount of disrespect would decrease; providing a good environment for our school.

  5. I think that this idea of community building through gardening is a definite possibility. Gardening itself, as it has been said, brings people closer together both mentally and physically. However, i wonder if there is a correlation between gardening and the effects it has in people's minds, such as making them a more social/calm person.
    One interesting thing i learned today was that talking to plants may actually help them grow. For example, people breath out CO2, which plants take in. That might help plants grow.
    - Fatin Ishraq 8-504

  6. I agree with the previous posts. Many gardening ideas are capable of bringing people together, with one ultimate goal. If more people were to read articles or learn about these things, there would be more awareness, and people would be more likely to help. I think that there could be a relationship regarding the awareness of the people and if they would help, with the kinds of people they are. Like if they would have to be forced to read something and learn the benefits, or if they already know things about gardening.

  7. I believe that gardening will help student interactive with each other more. I also think that gardening can help their social lives. I think that there is a relationship between gardeners and people with free time.

  8. I really think that this garden will be very beneficial to our environment and school. While also being green, our school is being provided with organic vegetables that are healthier. This garden will help students from different grades interact and get to know one another better. This was a fantastic idea and I'm really excited to be a part of it!

    ~Sherry C., 6-501