By: Adesuwa Ero, Intern, International Institute for Sustainable Development
The importance of community gardens are many and varied, fostering sustainable healthy communities and urban development. Cutting across a wide spectrum of things, studies have proven that community gardens promote physical, socio-economic and environmental benefits to man. A way of life successfully adopted by Brandon since the year 2000, and has had far reaching positive implications for its communities and the city at large.
Community gardens have become home for the people of Brandon, with over 800 community gardens, offering food security, companionship and low impact exercise. A crucial tool essential in building healthier and safer urban cities.
“A distinctive feature of Brandon’s community gardens is definitely the size. There are about 850-900 beds in total, Currently, I don’t think there is any other city in Canada with gardens as many as this. Community gardens do not only provide you with gardening skills, more importantly, it teaches people basic life skills, money management and an entrepreneurial spirit. The biggest impact on Brandon is that it has really changed the city’s landscape and there are more interactive green spaces,” said Naomi Leadbeater, Community Development Coordinator (Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation). Evidence of the blossoming nature of Brandon’s community gardens is the urban category award Brandon Community Garden Network received for its 12 community gardens at the time (which is now 15) and its urban farm at the Golden Carrots awards event in 2013 organized by Food Matters Manitoba.
Community gardens provide easy access to affordable locally produced healthy foods, promoting food security, thereby reducing urban cities use of fossil fuels in transporting agricultural produce. Environmentally, it improves air quality and adds an aesthetic feature to the city, it offer a unique contribution to the built environment by providing a ‘hands on’ learning opportunity to gain knowledge of the natural world (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2006).
“Community gardens should be included in city planning giving a voice to the importance of green spaces in urban environments, enhancing people’s knowledge of sustainable environmentally friendly best practices such as recycling and composting”, said Blake Hamilton, Community Garden Program Coordinator, Brandon Community Garden Network Inc.