Persuasive Essay about Community Gardens for School Rounds

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The idea of urban agriculture may seem unreasonable to the generations of people who have grown up in the United States thinking of farming as an exclusively rural enterprise. However, millions of people throughout the world are dependent on crops and animals raised in cities. Faced with the high growth of the urban population and economic and political changes that have undermined local food distribution systems, many cities around the world have begun to experiment in the field of urban agriculture, especially through community gardens. Health professionals, urban planners, environmental activists, community organizers, and policymakers are acknowledging the value of urban agriculture for economic development, food security, and preservation of green space.

Caitlin Flanagan, a contributing editor at The Atlantic and the author of Girl Land and To Hell with All That, examines the efficiency of school gardens in California and questions their effectiveness in improving a child’s chances of doing well on the state tests that will determine his or her future. She discusses school gardens as one branch of urban agriculture that have proven ineffective as they emphasize environment over education (Flanagan). However, in response to Flanagan’s claims, Kurt Michael Friese published an article that suggests that school gardens are important because of the opportunity they provide to learn responsibility, teamwork, sustainability, and respect for nature. Catherine LaCroix, a Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University, defines community gardens as another branch in which a lot is divided among households who tend small plots of land for personal or group uses, consumption, or donation. In studying the benefits of community gardens, the question of how effective they are in addressing issues of health, environment, and society arises.

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Community gardens are not new; they stemmed from periods when people were threatened by food insecurity. Urban community garden food production increased in the US parallel to food shortages caused by depressions or wars. Peter Ladner, who served two terms as a city councilor in Vancouver, British Columbia, and has an interest in the relationship between food policy and city planning has observed that Detroit Mayor, Hazen Pingree, initiated “potato patches” to help Detroit citizens through the 1893 depression. During World War I, the US federal government organized War Gardens. Work relief gardens and cooperative farms were created during the Great Depression in the 1930s. World War II spread the Victory Garden movement, in which household vegetable gardens were encouraged by the government to support the war effort. The home-grown vegetables helped stretch household budgets and reduce reliance on resources that could be used for the military. Later in the 20th century, community gardens, as we know them today, began to emerge as part of urban movements motivated by the new ecology movement and inflationary food prices, resulting in the establishment of the American Community Gardening Association in 1978 (Ladner). People looked to urban gardens as means of safeguarding the natural environment and as a community organizing tool to combat poverty, while also offsetting the cost of purchasing food.

The use of gardening as a cost-effective strategy to combat inflation received widespread legislative support. In studying the increasing recognition of the value of urban agriculture, Kate Brown and Andrew Jameton use data from a United Nations study that suggests the change in the percentage of people involved in gardening. In 1977, Congress allocated $1.5 million for the Urban Gardening Program to promote community gardens in 6 cities across the country by providing annual grants of $150,000 to $250,000 through the Cooperative Extension Service. The program was expanded to $3.6 million for 23 cities by 1993 (Brown & Jameton). Despite the program’s popularity and success, direct funding for the Urban Gardening Program was discontinued eventually because of the loss of the program’s supporters in the House and its lack of support within the USDA and the Cooperative Extension Service. Current funding for urban agriculture in the US comes from a variety of government, business, and philanthropic sources. Funds still filter from USDA through the Cooperative Extension for some urban garden projects. Funding is also available in grants and loans through Health and Human Services Community Development block grants or through entrepreneurs with bank loans and capital.

On behalf of the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, Romania, Claudiu Cicea and Corina Pîrlogea imply that the quality of life in cities is largely dependent on the availability of green spaces. Many experts and researchers have concluded that the seven elements embodied in the benefits of urban green spaces can be measured and may facilitate the calculation of direct revenue to the state budget. The seven elements include an increase in property value near green spaces, tourism development, health promotion, increased social inclusion, reduced air pollution, reduced stormwater management costs, and benefits from the direct use of recreational facilities. Numerous studies have shown that housing and land values, which are adjacent to green spaces, may increase by 8% to 20% (Cicea & Pîrlogea). Urban green infrastructure can help increase revenue in real estate because residents are willing to pay more to live near a community garden, driving up the market value of properties in the surrounding vicinity. A study in Milwaukee went so far as to calculate the increased taxes to the city from the higher property values. They calculated that the average community garden contributed $8,880 in annual tax revenue to the city, within a three-block radius of a community garden (Ladner). The image of an area can also be improved as a result of high property prices. Cities abundant with green spaces attract more visitors, creating revenue from retail and leisure arrangements, and employment and rental opportunities. Green infrastructure, in addition, supports urban tourism and shopping, makes city centers more attractive, soften extreme weather, incorporates visitor attractions by preserving attractive landscapes, and generates economic activity in agriculture, forestry, public services, hotels, and catering. A simpler and more measurable economic impact of community gardens is the money saved in mowing and maintenance costs when a volunteer-run garden takes over space in a publicly financed park.

While some people are interested only in growing food and consider the garden an economic resource, Andrew Flaschs, from Oberlin University, agrees that most individuals become involved to have a safe outdoor place as an option. It is known that lack of exercise, high stress, and high levels of pollution are associated with the development of various health issues. Health authorities concerned about soaring costs of obesity and diabetes love community gardens as they directly address the two main solutions to those epidemics: exercise and a better diet. Research shows that urban gardeners and their families consume more fruits and vegetables, have reduced grocery bills, and supply culturally valued fruits and vegetables in ethnic communities (Ladner). Investing in and protecting community gardens promotes physical activity and the recreational pursuit needed to prevent such health problems. By staying active in the garden and practicing better nutrition with fresh produce, gardeners reduce their risk of health problems and save on medical care. The garden is also a place to which people retreat when they are upset to regain their equilibrium, contributing to their mental health (Ladner). Urban gardens directly benefit the nutritional health of a community by providing produce, contributing to the ability to maintain a healthy diet.

Community gardens are effective in alleviating hunger by ensuring the availability of and access to affordable, sufficient, and healthy foods. In addition to its contribution to food security and nutritional health, urban agriculture in the United States has positive effects on individual health and overall community improvement. Horticulture therapists have recognized the benefits of physical exercise in gardening. Dr. Clarissa Kimber, an emeritus professor of geography at Texas A&M University, finds that the psychological and social benefits of gardens have also been well documented. Studies have shown that the mere presence of vegetable gardens in inner-city neighborhoods is positively correlated with decreases in crime, trash dumping, juvenile delinquency, fires, violent death, and mental illness. Green areas facilitate human needs to integrate into society, make as many contacts in the area they live, and live together in a safe environment. Community gardens implement the concept of “social capital,” which describes the relationship set in a community as a result of human interaction in activities that promote social cohesion. Social cohesion is critical for societies to prosper economically and for development to be sustainable. Gardens satisfy certain social purposes as places where family and neighbors gather and where gardeners could satisfy their love of beauty (Kimber, 2004). Community gardens give individuals the chance to care for something, do something positive, and witness the fruits of their labor. They can also give new immigrants a chance to position themselves as local experts. In Montreal, a McGill University project called Making the Edible Landscape found that immigrants from India and Bangladesh came to community gardens with agricultural knowledge that enabled them to drastically increase a plot’s yield (Ladner, 2014).

Urban agriculture presents both benefits and challenges for environmental health, impacting gardeners. One area of concern is the danger of toxic contamination from agricultural products such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides. However, community gardens tend to restrict the use of these chemicals. Soil and water pollution from nearby industries and highways can also pose serious health risks for urban agriculture. When not properly washed before being eaten, fresh crops can expose consumers to pollutants from airborne lead or toxic organic industrial wastes that settle on garden soil, plant leaves, and fruits. By requiring lead-free automobile gasoline, federal policy decreased the rate of new lead contamination of urban soils in the United States. The process of phytoremediation, or composting organic materials, can serve as a form of bioremediation for contaminated urban soils (Brown & Jameton). Community gardens also result in benefits to urban environmental health. Gardens increase a city’s biodiversity with plant variety by attracting beneficial soil microorganisms, insects, birds, reptiles, and animals. Urban green spaces can also play a role in species preservation for birds and butterflies by providing food, resting spaces, and protection along migratory flight paths. Urban agriculture can also reduce soil erosion and groundwater contamination when appropriate practices are used. Plants can additionally reduce air pollution by absorbing pollutants through their foliage.

Overall, community gardens are beneficial to human health, the environment, the economy, and society and need to grow in numbers so that they can also become more accessible. In order for community gardens to prosper and continually benefit the nation by enhancing the quality of life, it is necessary that they receive financial support and that the government strengthens regulatory policies that will rid community gardens of their potential flaws and negative implications on the environment. The restricted use of chemicals and the proper handling and washing of crops before being eaten are some precautions that must be taken. Phytoremediation or composting organic materials are forms of bioremediation for contaminated urban soils. Families have expressed that community garden programs were not accessible because they lacked the knowledge of how or where to participate or because programs were not in their neighborhoods. Programs have been deemed unfit for certain families, as they were not suited to busy schedules, interests, or needs. To combat these issues, programs need to be expanded through better advertising and implementation.

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Persuasive Essay about Community Gardens for School Rounds. (2023, November 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from
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