Community Gardens: Ready,
Let’s Grow!
Eric S. Bendfeldt
Extension Specialist, Community Viability
Virginia Cooperative Extension
Food System from Farm to Table
Virginia Farm-to-Table Plan
• 38 overall recommendations developed
Leadership, Transformational Change
and the Food System
Establishing a sense of urgency;
Forming a powerful guiding coalition;
Creating a vibrant vision and picture of the future;
Communicating the vision;
Empowering others to act on the vision;
Planning for and creating short-term wins;
Consolidating improvements to produce still
more change;
Institutionalizing new approaches so they become
part of the culture and organizational behavior.
Source: John Kotter, Harvard Business Review, 1995
Food Policies and Programs
Food access, equity
and security
 Community resiliency
and economic
 Emergency
preparedness and
 Education and
community nutrition
Local and regional
identity through foods
Mobile markets
Advocacy and
Enhanced reuse and
waste reduction
Zoning and clustering
of like-minded
Source: Hatfield, 2012
Brooklyn Grange
Feed Your City: Architecture and Farming photo gallery
UpGarden – Seattle, WA
Mercer Street Garage in downtown Seattle (Feed Your City:
Architecture + Farming)
High Line Park, New York, NY
Office Farm and Garden, Tokyo, Japan
Costs of Unhealthy Communities
and Malnutrition
The direct and indirect health costs
associated with obesity are estimated at
$117 billion per year nationwide
◦ worker absenteeism, health care premiums,
co-payments and out-of-pocket expenses
In 2006, the total cost of diabetes for
people in Virginia was estimated at $4.4
Benefits to the Community
Time outdoors and engage in
physical activity
Access to fresh fruits and
Open space for community
gatherings and family events.
Include neighbors of all ages and
Educational opportunities and
vocational skills for youths.
Target lower-income residents.
Enable gardeners to sell their
produce through a local farmer’s
Encourage the donation of surplus
produce to food pantries.
Additional Benefits
Property Values and Tax Revenues
◦ In New York, neighborhoods surrounding a
community garden saw a 9.4% increase in
property values within the first five years of
its opening
More stable neighborhoods
 Community Pride and Partnerships
 Support of other Community Services
◦ After-school programs
◦ Food shelters
Continuing to Grow
Tricycle Gardens, Richmond,VA
Growing Urban Agriculture
Lynchburg Grows -- Lynchburg,VA
Tricycle Gardens – Richmond,VA
Shalom Farms – Richmond, VA
Urban Agriculture Collective –
Charlottesville, VA
Our Community Farm – Harrisonburg,VA
New Community Project – Harrisonburg,VA
Project Grows – Verona,VA
And many more!!!
Ways Local Government Can Help
Allow zoning for community gardening
 Include community gardening and urban
agriculture in your general and
comprehensive plan
 Establish a community garden program
 Conduct an inventory of available lands
and lots and make the inventory easily
 Establish a local food policy and
community nutrition council
Accessing Land and Open Space
Provide long-term leases (5-10 years or more
Provide access to land for the duration of the gardening
Waive liability insurance requirements for community
gardens on publicly-owned land.
Inventory and assess available public property for use as
community gardens.
Reduce taxes or fees on land used for community gardening.
Establish development easements or zoning that prevent
buildings from being developed on the property to protect
the permanency of and lower the tax burden to the
community garden.
Consider agricultural or community gardening zoning to
reduce costs and support development. These spaces can
create livability in higher-density housing areas.
Source: Gardening Matters: Supporting
Community Gardens
For more information, visit
Where to get technical assistance?
Virginia Cooperative Extension and Master
Gardener program
 American Community Gardening
 USDA – Natural Resources Conservation
 USDA – People’s Garden Center
 USDA – National Agriculture Library
 USDA – Food and Nutrition Service
 Local Parks and Recreation Department
 Gardening Matters
American Planning Association
Community Garden Policy Reference Guide
Cultivating Community Gardens: The role of
local government in creating healthy, livable
Local Government Commission
Virginia Farm to Table blog
Virginia Food System Council
Virginia Foundation For Healthy Youth
Eric S. Bendfeldt
Extension Specialist, Community Viability
Phone: 540-432-6029 Ext. 106
Email: [email protected]

38 overall recommendations developed