A garden not just a garden when it has a higher purpose. Usually one or two people or a family plants a garden for food, exercise, therapy or enjoyment. However, some gardens are important to more than just a few people. Let’s take a look at types gardens that serve a higher purpose.
School gardening began in 1890 for political reform and to improve society. Leaders saw gardening as a way to get city children out of the tenements into a healthier environment and with healthy activity. School leaders thought it would also increase good moral character and teach appreciation of nature. The war garden movement eventually joined with the school garden effort. In the 1970s school gardens started to resurface as environmental concerns grew. Today schools encourage children to get involved in growing and appreciating healthy food to help teach them to eat better.
During WWI the government recruited farm workers to fight, which greatly reduced food production. To supplement food supply the government promoted war gardens or victory gardens that were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens on private and public. Americans planted more than 5 million gardens after the U.S. National War Garden Commission was launched in March 1917. Again in WWII the government promoted war gardens and 18 million victory gardens were in use by May 1943. Eleanor Roosevelt even planted one on the White House lawn. After the war, few people kept home gardens and more people enjoyed processed food. Today victory gardens are back in style to help with tough economic times and concern over healthy food.
A community garden is defined as any piece of land gardened by a group of people including school gardens and victory gardens. Community gardening brings people together and benefits everyone. As agricultural land decreases and food deserts expand, urban and home gardens become more and more important. Community gardens provide healthy food and nurture social connections. The Shawnee County Extension Master Gardeners and Topeka Common Ground provide information and support for local community gardeners. There are at least 31 community gardens in Shawnee County.