Gardening has been said to be the most popular hobby in America. Unfortunately, in more dense urban areas private back yards are often small or non-existent, so gardening opportunities are limited.
Community Garden Parks have been around for decades, but with limited availability and the high price of land, few cities have provided the opportunity for community garden plots. The cities that have developed Community Garden Parks have found the demand for individual plots typically outstrips supply.
Garden Parks not only provide a physical, but social opportunity. Gardening spans all age groups from youngsters to seniors who have years of experience in a garden. It fosters interaction between generations as families can garden together, seniors can mentor younger gardeners. Children can actually learn that carrots came out of the ground at one point and not from a cellophane bag at the super market.
Community Garden Parks transcend all economic groups from those that use it as a food source to those that grow ornamentals plants such as flowers. Growing vegetables, flowers, herbs provide a recreational opportunity for almost everyone.
The initial development costs of a “rural” Community Garden Park are minimal in comparison to a traditional active park. Raised garden beds are marked out and made available to residents for a small annual fee.
A water source is provided, a gravel parking area, a couple of tables with lattice covers as “learning” and exchange areas.—so a premier tomato grower can swap their bounty with the resident zucchini grower.
It provides an aesthetically pleasing patchwork of color and texture, with a no noise, low intensity use. Neighboring residents usually find this type of land use pleasing and acceptable from a visual perspective.
Grant funding is available for Community Gardens, and is usually tied to educational workshops and programs with local elementary schools. It provides a sense of purpose and social interaction for seniors to grow food, flowers or herbs, plus sharing their knowledge with a younger generation.
Many people are concerned with their food source being pesticide free. Growing your own organic vegetables in a community setting would foster exchanges in ideas, cultivation methods, and watering routines.
One of the most important aspects which is often overlooked, it the teaching of life lessons to a younger generation that the more effort and labor you put forth in an activity the greater the rewards. You care and tend a garden and you will be richly rewarded.
The Lake Forest Community Garden Park concept is being submitted to the City Council of Lake Forest for consideration as an inclusion in the Lake Forest 5-year plan.
In addition the Parks and Recreation Department, along with public works can develop cost estimates and public workshops.
The thought is to start with a “rural theme” framework, and let the community through their individual and corporate efforts develop the Lake Forest Community Garden Park into a premier community social gathering spot and park. The Whispering Hills park site lends itself to easy access, would provide a great visual along Lake Forest Drive and appears to match perfectly the site with the land use. The community has the opportunity to create a Garden Park that will be the largest community effort in the state and a proto-type of others to follow and emulate.