First and foremost, the community garden will open countless opportunities for practical, hands-on learning in different disciplines, such as landscape studies, horticulture, agricultural and environmental sciences, design, family and consumer sciences, public health, ecology, anthropology, geography, plant biology, and engineering. All of those, who study these and other disciplines can greatly benefit from the existence of the on-campus community garden. All of the departments will be welcome to participate and use the garden for an outdoor classroom experience.
However, it will not be dedicated to one department nor any group of students will have a sole responsibility for it. Moreover, not only the garden encourages learning one particular subject, but it also creates an opportunity for various collaborations between departments, which might result in beautiful interdisciplinary studies.
A community garden will encourage students to go outside their rooms and engage in the peer-to-peer learning experience, which gains more and more popularity due to its collaborative and versatile nature.
Environmental awareness is growing day by day and we are realizing that the climate change is real and it might be a real danger to our planet in the near future. Building a community garden will help raise awareness amongst students and promote sustainable behavior. It will teach students about a wide scope of issues regarding sources of food, maintaining biodiversity and native species, urban and, of course, community agriculture.
College students are known for being stressed out and anxious about their studies. It appears that one of the greatest benefits a community garden can give us is a mental stability. A number of researches have shown that such natural environments as community gardens can also provide a multitude of mental health benefits. Just spending some time in a garden accelerates recovery from mental exhaustion, makes you more satisfied with life and boosts your outlook. Moreover, it enhances your ability to cope with different kinds of stress and even makes your body heal and restore quicker after injuries. Last, but not least, being exposed to nature boosts your productivity and focus. (Maller et al., 2005). All of those are obviously great not only for students but every person out there.
A community garden will also promote a healthy diet, as it will give students opportunity to access inexpensive, but organic fruits and vegetables. As we all know, students do not consume the amount of fresh produce that they should. The research held by American College Health Association has shown that a vast majority of college students (nearly 94%) consume less than the recommended amount of vegetables per day (ACHA, 2011). This definitely affects the productivity and physical health of each and every student. The problem can be partially solved by growing fresh produce nearby, where it will be easily accessible.
By promoting a healthier lifestyle in general, the community garden will boost physical activity, as well, because gardening is actually considered to be a pretty great physical exercise and it is said to be beneficial to cholesterol levels and blood pressure (Armstrong, 2000).
The faculty members who will participate in this gardening activity will also be able to benefit from it.
They will they have an access to the healthier produce and a quiet place to restore their mental stability, as well. If the garden is popular enough, it will give the faculty members a chance to boost their wellness as well as the health of their families. By boosting the productivity, it will also create a more harmonious atmosphere in the workplace. It might unify the faculty member with the students, as it will provide a place, where the hierarchy is less apparent, which will create a healthier relationship in the academic environment, as well.
- Maller, C. (2005). Healthy nature healthy people: ‘contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. Health Promotion International, 21(1), 45-54. American College Health Association-national college health assessment II: reference group executive summary, spring 2011. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.acha-ncha.org/docs/ACHA-NCHA-II_ReferenceGroup_ExecutiveSummary_Spring2011.pdf
- Armstrong, D. (2000). A survey of community gardens in upstate New York: Implications for health promotion and community development. Health & Place, (6), 319-327. Retrieved from https://nccommunitygardens.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/researchArmstrongSurveyNYHealthCommunityDevelopment.pdf