KSL recently reported on a “farmer without a farm” in Salt Lake City. In a nutshell, the story is about a guy who has no land so he uses other people’s space to grow things that he then sells at farmer’s markets.
While the information in the story itself is pretty minimal, it illustrates an important but oft-overlooked point: communal gardening only works in places with high density housing. In other words, people who generally participate in community gardening opportunities are those finding themselves in situations like the man in the KSL article.
By contrast, if everyone has their own backyard garden — or at least the space to plant one — there’s very little incentive to participate in community gardens that might require slightly greater investments of time or money.
In my experience, community gardens are a popular idea. They conjure up idyllic images of neighbors planting, harvesting, and communing together. They can obviously provide healthy and inexpensive food. They are places for people to come together. For all of those reasons, I join with others in believing that they should be more common.
But at least in Provo, the presence or absence of community gardens is entirely symptomatic of broader development patterns. Ultimately, if residents want more community gardens, they’ll have to actively encourage denser development.