Benefits: Brownfields to Gardens
Quite a few benefits can be realized when converting a brownfields site into a garden. Some of the benefits are listed below:
Naturally, people rather live close to a nicely kept piece of property than a site overgrown by weeds and littered with trash. Aside from not visually pleasing, trash and high weeds can attract vermin and other nuisances and tires filled with rain water will serve as mosquito breeding grounds (West Nile virus).
Blight Mitigation and Improvement of Community Image
Converting a blighted property into a garden, be it for growing crops or flowers or both, will improve a neighborhoods image and people may move in rather than move away. It may also reduce crime by reducing accessibility to gathering places favored by unlawful elements.
The pictures illustrate the visual impact of converting a blighted property to a community garden.
Preservation of Neighborhoods
Taking care of properties and mitigating blight will preserve neighborhoods. People will take pride in a community garden and by caring for it, will become a closer knit community.
Creation of Community Gathering Places
Gardens serve as great gathering places for all ages.
Availability of Locally Grown Foods
Access to locally grown foods is becoming more and more important for all facets of society. Especially in areas where access to fresh produce is limited (mostly urban low socio-economic minority neighborhoods), community gardens fill an important gap.
Combat Food Deserts
In areas where grocery stores are sparse or non-existent, the only source of food may be a convenience store and access to fresh produce is limited (mostly urban low socio-economic minority neighborhoods), community gardens fill an important gap and may be the only way to obtain fresh produce.
Physical Activity/Health Benefits
Gardening is an excellent way to be physically active and as such can be beneficial to anyone’s health. Gardening is an appropriate activity for all ages from children to seniors. Working with plants and outdoors is good for mental health as well.
When establishing a CSA, or selling produce or flowers at a local Farmers Market, economic benefits can be realized. Also, growing for your own consumption will save money.
Addresses and Mitigates Public Health and Safety Concerns
Reduction of crime is one of the by-products of removing blight. Establishing a garden often means clearing weeds and brush. This will eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes and vermin. By adding amendments to the soil to improve crop productivity, the bioavailability (link to the bioavailability definition) of heavy metals and other potential contaminants can be reduced. If the concentration of potential contaminants is moderate to begin with these soils would possess no or very minimal health risks and environmental concerns. Some brownfields sites may require environmental cleanup prior to be used as a garden and by doing so public health and safety is protected.
Improvement and Protection of the Environment
Converting brownfields sites into gardens improves the environment and addressing potential contaminants in the soil along the way protects the environment.