For inquiries contact Angela Hartsell, Community Gardens Program Manager or Michelle Gorham, Assistant Program Manager
The Community Gardens Program enriches the built environment and quality of life in San Antonio by engaging a broad range of stakeholders who eagerly rally to establish and maintain a diversity of urban green spaces. These green spaces catalyze community unity across generations and cultures, nurture holistic environmental awareness through service-learning, and contribute to individual health through physical activity, improved natural atmosphere, and quality nutrition. The program grows more than green spaces; it cultivates curiosity, motivation, generosity, and friendliness and raises the next generation to strive for more urban green spaces, access to fresh produce, and civic participation as standards.
Green Spaces Alliance is currently working with many groups who have gardens or plan to start one. Read on to find out how you can get involved with an existing garden or start a community garden in your neighborhood today.
Any urban green space that is developed and maintained by volunteers members of the community to the benefit of those members may be deemed a community garden. When people think about community gardens, they may conjure up various images based on experience or knowledge but, for the most part, they think of geographic spaces with plants. Space and plants create nothing more than a garden; it is the addition of mem that makes it a community garden. The style, design, content, and method of management are completely up to the volunteer community group.
There are communal gardens where all the members share in all the work and all the benefits. There are plotted gardens where each member maintains and benefits from his or her own plot. Some gardens are composites of these two styles. There are gardens that contain vegetables and other edibles. There are gardens that contain only flowers and trees. Most gardens contain some of both. There are gardens that are designed for efficiency and capacity. There are gardens that are designed for relaxation and beauty. Many gardeners design their spaces to serve multiple functions.
No matter the appearance, it is the group of neighbors actively working together to create and maintain a space that makes it a community garden. And, it is the group of members who reap the benefits.
The concept of community gardens has been around for a long time. You can find them all over the country and all over the world. San Antonio has had community gardens in the past, but the harsh summer months take the starch out of the garden and the gardeners. The Green Spaces Community Gardens Committee established our program in 2006 with two watchwords: sustainability and shared knowledge. With these guiding principles and best practices, the program is designed to improve the health of our citizens and environment, beautify neighborhoods, and strengthen the community by providing a place for people to meet and bond. We developed our best practices based on lessons learned from other programs across the country and years of trial and error in the early years of the program.
Three fortunate neighborhoods were picked as pilot projects in late 2006. Green Spaces developed the program structure that now adds a measure of financial support to start a garden to our clearinghouse of physical resources and shared knowledge. These factors have created a program that is a catalyst for community-sustained green space.
Since then, innumerable groups continue to contact Green Spaces for support and advice. From Utah to Tennessee and from Wimberly to Edinburg, gardeners are inspired by the community gardening progress in San Antonio. We have advised and given tours to inquirers and visitors from across the country. During each interaction we discuss the successes and challenges of community gardening including the program’s rate.