American Community Gardening Association
In the 1990's, millions of Americans are chronically hungry and malnourished. American cities decay, vacant lot by vacant lot. Youth unemployment and school drop-out rates approach crisis proportions. Older Americans live in physical and social ghettos, cut off from healthy interaction with the larger society. And children in cities think vegetables come from supermarkets.
Community organizing around a neutral issue like gardening helps get to the root of these problems. The community gardening and greening movement brings together neighbors and others of diverse cultures, ethnicities,ages, and abilities to work for change by creating new community resources. Community gardens can serve as a catalyst for neighborhood development,beautification, recreation, therapy, and food production.
In the early 1970's the community gardening movement took firm root in urban communities, and many of these continue to thrive in such cities as Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Chicago, Indianapolis, Denver, Seattle and Kansas City. Growing out of the energy crisis of the '70's and the resulting rise in the price of fresh produce, and spurred by the rapid decline of inner city neighborhoods, the number of community gardening programs in the US has increased significantly. From less than 20 programs in the early 1970's, there are now more than 550 programs nationally. Requests from cities and community groups wanting to start programs are rising steadily, according to the American Community Gardening Association,up from 150 in 1992 to more than 400 in 1994. A 1992 ACGA study reported that the rate of new garden starts within existing programs is also increasing, up 29% from 1990. Further, this study noted that almost half of these reporting organizations indicated that "they had been, or were currently working on significant open space initiatives to incorporate community gardening into their city's Master Plan or Open Space Element."
Over the last 15 years, many community gardening and greening programs have formed to help fulfill our national need for growth and greening, and to make green space a reality for large numbers of people. The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) was founded in 1979 to help these different programs share often limited resouces, and to help keep these same groups from constantly re-inventing the wheel.
Supported in part by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, ACGA maintains a national office in Philadelphia. Several local ACGA Board members meet there weekly , and answer hundreds of requests for information each year about community gardening and greening. They offer support, coach fledgling groups, and wherever possible they make matches between programs with specific challenges and programs which have already worked through similar situations. A group starting gardens in Public Housing, for example, might be encouraged to visit a neighboring state that has been doing that for many years. New programs just forming can get "Start-up" information, along with a contact list of Board members and other members in their geographic region, since many questions are best answered on a local level. They can also borrow a slide show about community gardening, or access educational handouts on a wide variety of subjects.
Through its networking, publications ( The Community Greening Review, etc.)and annual conference, (held this year in Portland, Oregon,) ACGA promotes the formation and expansion of national and regional community gardening networks, develops resources in support of community gardening and greening, encourages research on the impact of community greening, and conducts educational programs.
By becoming ACGA members, gardening professionals and volunteers maintain contact with others throughout the US , keeping abreast of the latest techniques and developments in the field. ACGA, its Board of Directors, and its organizational and individual members represent and support all aspects of community food and ornamental gardening, urban forestry, and the preservation and management of open space.
Benefits of Membership
- A nationwide network of community gardening contacts;
- Membership Directory
- Discounted attendance at the annual ACGA Conference;
- The annual Community Greening Review;
- The bimonthly Multilogue members newsletter;
- Access to the ACGA Community Gardening Slide Show and Display;
- Access to the ACGA Educational Handout File;
- Mentoring Program linking new members with more experienced members;
- Certificate of Recognition giving national recognition to nominated people or groups
- Letters of Support
- Other ACGA publications
For more information about ACGA, contact: the ever-faithful National Office volunteers:Sally McCabe
American Community Gardening Association
100 N. 20th St., 5th floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1495
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