Why Food Gardens?

Gardens have the power to nourish our bodies, heal our divided communities and cool our warming planet.

We live in a time of unprecedented global challenges which seem so daunting, complex and interconnected that it is easy to feel helpless and lose hope. Some of the defining issues of this generation are improving mental and physical health, alleviating food and financial insecurity, creating more resilient communities and combatting the climate crisis. While all of these issues require large-scale communication and mobilisation, we don’t have to wait for our political leaders to act to begin making progress in these areas. Growing some of our own food either in our backyard or in our community is a simple yet effective way of taking power over our health and well-being while at the same time working for the greater good.

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Consider the following

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Mental and Physical Health

Gardens can alleviate stress, increase mental well-being and encourage healthy eating habits, on top of many other health benefits.

Over the years there have been a variety of studies investigating both the mental and physical effects of gardening. One of these studies found that gardening helped relieve stress in families with a member in the marines. Another found that gardening helped children focus on schoolwork, enhancing academic performance. Yet another found that, after gardening, kids have an increased interest in eating fruit and vegetables. Gardening has also been associated with lowered blood-pressure and better eating habits.

1. Relf, D. (1988). People-Plant Relationship. In: S.P. Simson, M. C. Straus (eds.). Horticulture as Therapy. The Food Products Press, New York. Pp. 21-42. Graham, H. & S. Zidenberg-Cherr. (2005). California teachers perceive school gardens as an effective nutritional tool to promote healthful eating habits. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105:1797-1800.

2. Fairleigh, M. (2004). Gardens for the green machine: Investigating the use of community gardening for stress treatment in marine corps families. Unpublished graduate thesis. California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona), 3801 W. Temple Avenue, Pomona, CA.

Resilient Communities

Growing community gardens leads to growing community. Well-connected communities are communities that are better able to deal with the issues they face.

A study of the Robert Taylor Housing Development in Chicago found that more frequent use of green spaces lead to more neighbor interactions and increased familiarity which in turn leads to stronger more supportive neighborhoods. Community gardens take this one step further, not only do they lead to neighborhood familiarity but they also train people to coordinate and work together. Once you know how to work on issues with your neighbors you can start work towards important goals outside of gardening, too. After gardening, kids possess an appreciation for working with neighborhood adults, and have an increased interest for improvement of neighborhood appearance.

6. Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C., Coley, R.L., & Brunson, L. (1998). Fertile ground for community: Inner-city neighborhood common spaces. American Journal of Community Psychology 26(6), 823-851. .

7. Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C., Coley, R.L., & Brunson, L. (1998). Fertile ground for community: Inner-city neighborhood common spaces. American Journal of Community Psychology 26(6), 823-851

8. Pothukuchi, K. (2004). “Hortiliza: A Youth “Nutrition Garden” in Southwest Detroit.” Children, Youth and Environments, 14(2): 124-155

Education

Food gardens, especially school gardens, are a powerful educational tool that can be used to teach students about myriad subjects.

School gardens can provide real-life examples for lessons related to ecology, biology, sustainability, health and geography. For example, gardens that use compost are great for teaching students about the life-cycle. The stimulation of a living example helps students focus on the subject at hand, making teaching easier for the teachers. There are demonstrable positive effects on students who spend time in gardens. Multiple studies have found that third, fourth and fifth graders who spent regular time learning in and interacting with a garden scored higher on science achievement tests.

Klemmer, C.D., Waliczek, T.M. & Zajicek, J.M. (2005). Growing Minds: The Effect of a School Gardening Program on the Science Achievement of Elementary Students. HortTechnology. 15(3): 448-452

Klemmer, C.D., Waliczek, T.M. & Zajicek, J.M. (2005). Development of a Science Achievement Evaluation Instrument for a School Garden. HortTechnology. 15(3): 433-438

Food and Financial Insecurity

By growing gardens, people can increase their access to healthy foods while reducing their food budget.

Within the United States alone, 37 million people go hungry on a regular basis. On top of this, in many communities healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are hard to find or prohibitively expensive. These areas are commonly referred to as food deserts. Gardening can help combat these situations. A study by researchers at Santa Clara University found that the maintenance of a garden was associated with higher consumption of vegetables. Another study carried out in San Jose found that people who maintained a home garden saved an average of $92 a month and people who belonged to a community garden saved an average of $84 a month. These savings stack up and can make a real difference especially if you consider that 54% of American adults are struggling with some aspect of their financial lives.

The Climate Crisis

Food gardens help decrease Greenhouse Gas emissions and encourage people to act in sustainable ways.

A report by the UN Environmental Programme warns that global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions need to decrease by at least 7.6% between now and 2030 in order to be on track to hit the 1.5℃ temperature goal set by the Paris Climate Agreement. (10) We’re going to need systemic change in order to ensure we don’t face the worst case scenarios for the climate crisis. That means governments are going to need to step up and international collaboration on the issue will need to get stronger. However, in the meantime, planting more gardens is one way we can start to work at this issue. According to a study by Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek (2018), published in the journal Science, food production accounts for about 26% of global GHG emissions. (11) Every kilogram of produce grown in a garden instead of being bought in a store reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions by two kilograms. (12) More garden-grown foods means fewer GHG emissions and a brighter future.

10. https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/cut-global-emissions-76-percent-every-year-next-decade-meet-15degc

11. https://ourworldindata.org/food-ghg-emissions

12.  Cleveland, David A., et al. (2017) “The Potential for Urban Household Vegetable Gardens to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 157, 365–374

Women’s Empowerment

Gardens promote women’s empowerment and gender equity, especially in the global south. They give women more of a say in their family and offer an opportunity to attain financial independence by selling surplus garden produce.

Traditional gender roles vary widely and, in many places, they need to change in order to reach gender equity. Gardening can play a role in driving toward greater gender equity. A 2015 study, run in Bangladesh, found that growing a garden ensured that women had more control of food supplies and income, as well as increasing their self-confidence and feelings of worth within their community. (13)

Why SeedMoney?

In a Time of Big Global Problems, Small Gardens Offer a Proven and Cost-Effective Solution

The seeds of all garden projects sprout first in the mind of an individual or group of people with a vision to make their part of the world a better place. More than just having a vision, these people are ready to get sweaty and dirty to realize their vision. SeedMoney works with these “grow-getters” to make sure that they have the financial and technical support needed for their garden visions to take root and thrive. Since 2015, we have worked with 1350 garden project leaders in 50 US states and 30 countries helping them to raise $1.1 million for food gardens. We estimate that these gardens projects have in turn reached over 400,000 people and have grown 675 tons of healthy food.

Below are just a few of the people we have worked with in the past year.

SeedMoney campaigns should be a staple for ALL school gardens! The platform could not be easier for people to donate quickly to the school garden that they love!

Andrea TrujilloThomas Jefferson Elementary School, Burbank, CA ($2005 raised)

I was somewhat skeptical of crowdsourced funding but gave SeedMoney a try. They were really very helpful in getting my proposal together and walking me through the process. I was pleasantly surprised when I achieved our funding goal in just a few days!

Tom JerowRhinelander Area Food Pantry Community Garden, Rhinelander, WI ($1,266 raised)

Our SeedMoney campaign was the least resource-intensive fundraiser we have ever conducted and brought in more money than any event we have ever put on.

Ann BemanMamie D. Lee Community Garden, Washington, DC ($2,425 raised)

I never would have considered crowdfunding to get my project off the ground, but with SeedMoney I had the courage to ask people for help and support. I was surprised at how many responded, and with such generosity.

Alicia WinterThe Marvelwood Garden, Kent, CT ($1,208 raised)

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