Community gardens are places where people come together to grow produce, herbs, and flowers. The gardens can be divided into individual plots or cultivated communally. They may be on underused land, incorporated in public parks, and even on rooftops.
While we may think of them as a recent phenomenon, community gardens have long been a part of human culture, providing a space for people to come together and grow their own food. For example, during World Wars I and II, Victory Gardens were popularized as a way for citizens not only to supplement their diets but also to boost morale and support for the war effort. More recently, while the focus of community gardens has continued to be on combating food scarcity and strengthening community, other issues like environmental sustainability, education, connection with nature, and community empowerment also have become important.
At the heart of community gardening is the philosophy of shared responsibility and cooperation. Members of a community garden work together to maintain the space and ensure its success. This fosters a sense of solidarity and creates opportunities for people to build relationships and learn from one another. The connections go even beyond human community. These gardens also can serve as green spaces in urban areas, improving air quality and providing habitats for pollinators and other wildlife.
There are numerous opportunities to become involved in Dubuque area community gardens. The most local option is here on Loras’s campus, the Tom Blacklock Memorial Campus Garden. This garden was started in 2014 under the leadership of Professors Aditi Sinha and Tom Davis and Honors students with the help of a grant from the city. It initially was a way to explore edible landscaping as well as a means to increase awareness and educate the camps about local eating and the ease of growing food. Over the years it has continued to expand. A garden map provides a plan each year with careful attention paid to plant selection and placement, but always with the inclusion of at least one new or somewhat unusual vegetable. Prairie plants outside of the garden attract beneficial insects and pollinators. The garden produce may be used by anyone in the campus community. Likewise, all are welcome to help with the garden. If you are interested, you can sign up here: Garden Volunteer Sign Up Summer 2023. To learn more about community gardens and gardening visit the book display on gardening on Library’s fourth floor and check out these ebooks.