There can be many purposes to a community garden. Gardens can be used for education, recreational, mental and physical rehabilitation, and provide access to healthy foods. Gardens can bring a sense of community cohesiveness and provide opportunities for neighborhood improvement.
The Healthy Franklin County Community Garden Work Group organized in the summer of 2016 to address nutrition, as it was identified as a priority in the 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment and 2016 Community Health Improvement Plan. The community garden work group works to bring neighborhoods together to provide a sustainable food source for easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables, expand community engagement, strengthen economic development, utilize our collective resources to help sustain existing community gardens and assess the potential to develop new gardens.
Since the group formed, its conducted a community garden interest survey, community garden inventory and serves as a resource for those looking to start community gardens in Franklin County. Over 320 individuals responded to a community garden interest survey which indicated overwhelming support for the concept.
Community Garden Interest Survey Snapshot:
- 89% of respondents are interested in growing vegetables, 63% herbs and 38% flowers.
- The top reasons for participating in a community garden are access to fresh vegetables 66%, community involvement 52%, learning more about gardening 40%, saving money 38%, socializing/recreation 42%.
- 53% of respondents would spend 1-2 hours per week in a shared garden; 20% would spend 3-4 hours per week and 5% would spend 5 or more hours a week.
- 52% of respondents would be interested in volunteering at a community garden.
- 57% of respondents would like to see a community garden in their downtown, 55% would like to see them in parks and trails and 44% would like to see them in their neighborhoods.
- 15% of respondents were age 25-32; 32% of respondents were age 33-35; 24% of respondents were age 46-55; 16% of respondents are 56-65.
Since the original survey was conducted in the fall of 2016, two, door-to-door follow up surveys were conducted in neighborhoods with vulnerable populations located in the Franklin County Housing Authority, one in Chambersburg and one in Waynesboro. The Chambersburg survey indicates strong support for community gardens; the Waynesboro surveys are still being collected and reviewed but preliminary results show support.
Are You Interested in Community Gardening? Sign-Up Today!
Network Ministries, located in Downtown Chambersburg, has operated a youth community garden for years. Last summer, they successfully piloted a community garden with 11 plots/11 gardeners and ended the season with 8 gardeners. Network Ministries is expanding their community garden to 25+ plots this summer and is currently looking for gardeners. Detail are here. Anyone can purchase a plot for $20. Network plans to prep the garden plots at the end of March and early April and expects interested gardeners to help with that process. They are also looking for volunteers to help even if they don’t want to garden. Contact Josh Mosely for more information at 717-264-4640.
The Church of the Apostles located in the Wayne Heights neighborhood in Waynesboro is also looking for gardeners for its eighth year in operation. The use of a garden is FREE. Water use from the building is FREE. All other garden related expenses are the gardener's responsibility. Details are here.
Waynesboro Community and Human Services is launching a victory garden for its food pantry. The garden will be located at the Church of the Apostles. They are looking for volunteers to help with the garden. Contact Trey Gelbach at 717-816-8792 for more information.
Trinity Lutheran Church located on Philadelphia Avenue in Chambersburg is starting a new community garden this year. If you would like to help or want more information, contact Mary Jo Frey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the Franklin County, PA Master Gardeners for classes and information. Healthy Franklin County plans to organize a skills workshop with the Master Gardeners this spring at Network Ministries. Stay tuned.
Community gardens are a great way to meet new people, get exercise and to grow healthy food. For more information about community gardening in Franklin County, contact Noel Purdy at email@example.com.