Can we give a new definition, a new concept, a new extended dimension to the kitchen gardens that we are engaged in? Yes, we can!
A Community Kitchen Garden is a green space that is planned, designed, built and maintained by some community members for the benefit of that entire community i.e., growing organic food. It helps the group of garden enthusiasts (in the community) to come together and grow vegetables and fruits in the identified common space/piece of land collectively, thus increasing the green space in the area apart from reaping the benefits of organic vegetables and fruits.
Today with space and time constraints for having an individual kitchen garden, we can opt for a community kitchen garden with our neighbours and start it in a common space like apartment terrace, corridors, open balconies and/or residential plots/sites unused.
To Begin: Organize a meeting of interested people and also the experienced gardeners to plan the kind of crops to be grown, the resources and works to be shared. For a jump start, one could also use professional help from nurseries too.
Choose the site: apartment terrace, open balconies (with easy accessibility) or the plots/sites with good amount of sunshine (6 hours a day). If the chosen vegetables need less sunlight, go for a green shade net or greenhouse on your terrace or take a few indoors near windowsills or the corridors.
Planters or pots: Choose the durable proper sized pots with good drainage based on the vegetables to be grown; shallow or deep rooted plants.
Potting mix: The potting mix should support healthy growth of plants. It should be rich in nutrients, porous and well-draining. It can be made by mixing equal proportion of fine red soil and compost/vermicompost.
Organic Seeds: Buy the organic healthy viable seeds from an authentic organic store.
Gardening Tools: These include gloves, sprayers, composters, rakes, shovels, plant pruners, plant supports that can be bought easily.
Watering: Can be done daily or every alternate depending on the weather and plants.
Benefits of a Community Kitchen Gardens: Apart from providing fresh, pesticide-free and organic vegetables and fruits, community kitchen gardens basically come with an idea of sharing work and cost savings. Every volunteer involved can spend less time in gardening when compared to individual gardening; one can meet people regularly that enhance his/her social bonding. These days most of the families are nuclear; that makes our kitchen garden suffer due to lack of care when the entire family is traveling or very busy with the daily routine. This doesn’t happen with community kitchen garden as the work can be planned among the volunteers and accomplished. Provide good physical exercise in the fresh air, a beautiful green patch that pleases our mind and never to forget, it makes our community self-sustainable and also reduces the wet waste being dumped into landfills leading to pollution. Also, involving the children in the activities helps them to explore and nurture the process of gardening at their own pace; Gertrude Jekyll rightly said: “The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies”.
Community kitchen gardens are at the heart of healthy and sustainable neighbourhoods. By improving people’s diets and physical activity levels, and by combating social isolation, community gardens improve a neighbourhood’s all-round physical and mental health quotients.
So folks, let’s take a leap to the next version of kitchen gardening in the coming new year: COMMUNITY KITCHEN GARDENS.
Do write in your thoughts or experiences on community kitchen gardening.