Cities are vast and full of opportunities, but they’re also stacked like a Tetris board with very little wiggle room. Nearly nine million people live in New York City alone, and millions more flock to other cities across the United States annually. When every square inch of space matters, giving a city-dweller a backyard to spend time in or utilizing how they wish isn’t something anyone would consider, despite spending time outdoors has been shown to improve people’s mental health

Yet even with the need for space, cities are still littered with vacant lots filled with debris that act like nothing more than eyesores for its urban community. Instead of leaving these lots to needlessly take up space, it would be beneficial overall to turn these lots into a community garden. Instead of gathering debris, a community garden would be a shared plot of land for everyone to plant and grow vegetables and flowers. It would start a shared economy for those in the community to all enjoy the resources planted there and benefit not just the gardeners but also the entire neighborhood.

It would help beautify the city

No one likes looking at garbage, even if that’s the general norm for some aspects of city living. By starting a community garden, the garbage and debris would be cleared from the vacant lots and replace it with greenery that you wouldn’t expect to find in an urban area. This would improve the quality of life for the neighborhood’s residents and potentially increase the property values in the surrounding area.

It would make fresh produce accessible

Urban neighborhoods are often referred to as “food deserts” due to the lack of accessibility of fresh fruits and vegetables. Establishing a community garden would put an end to that, providing the neighborhood with produce that families might not otherwise be able to afford. This also encourages healthy lifestyles by improving everyone’s diets and giving them the chance to enjoy fresh air and exercise. Any excess produce can be sent to food pantries, further assisting the community.

It would create a stronger community

Working together on a project will undoubtedly help build connections between neighbors. These connections can help people make new friends and build their social skills, and potentially make people feel more invested in where they live. With people getting out of their apartments to assist with the community garden, they can keep an eye on the street they live in and help reduce crime as a result.