Derived from our research project literature review…
Growing local food can provide a means for communities to become more connected and resilient, particularly when gardens and gardeners collaborate to grow food. As an example a single beehive can produce more than 60kg’s of honey a year which is more than one family can consume. When one grows food locally they can better control the inputs and as such have improved potential to cultivate food that is potentially healthier than those found in the supermarkets. The ecological benefits of growing food locally include a reduction in the food miles and by developing local soils the communities ability to capture carbon improves.
Measures generally fall into such things as quantitative counts of vegetable producing units and area available for production. Labour effort and inputs as well as yield measures are also useful. Economic measures such as income from farmers markets and increase in sales turnover are valuable measures for urban farms and community supported agriculture.
The social benefits that come from growing local can be significant. At most community gardens you’ll find a mixture shared common beds and allotment beds. Each style suits different people and motivates them for different reasons. A qualitative survey and/or one on one interviews can provide often surprising and heart warming evidence of these benefits. Some examples from Innermost Garden Allotment users ..
I have been renting one of the private allotments at the Innermost gardens for 2 years after moving to Wellington from the UK. I’ve always enjoyed gardening but living in a south facing exposed apartment meant I was struggling to grow much successfully. After taking on a small plot I was able to grow tomatoes, courgettes, sweetcorn and more which would not have been possible otherwise. As the area is protected from wind by the surrounding trees it means I can grow something all year round. At the moment I have broccoli, cabbage and sprouts growing and planning on growing a cut flower patch this summer.
Being able to walk to the gardens in 30 minutes from home also means it is a great source of exercise a couple of times per week as well as helping to provide fresh organic vegetables in our diet. Having an area to grow helped me feel more at home in Wellington. It gave me an opportunity to meet more local people, both other allotment holders, who often share tips and extra produce and people who use the gardens to walk, enjoy the space or use the compost bins.
When I retired three years ago I was living in an apartment in central Wellington. I would often walk through the Innermost Gardens in the weekends and always thought it was a lovely tranquil space so close to the centre of the city. I became involved in the garden working days but wanted to have more time in the gardens and when I learnt about the allotments thought that would suite really well.
I have had my allotment for over two years now and it has satisfied my craving for gardening while still living in an apartment. I try to grow year-round salad greens and also other crops such as beans, beetroot, etc. We also use the compost bins for our vegetable waste.
There are often people walking through during the week keen to know what is going on in the garden area and a continual stream of people walking in with their compost. I personally think it is a wonderful asset to inner city life.
To explore these impacts areas and measures in more detail look to the full Literature Review report further on this site.