Local community gardens growing organic veggies like tomatoes are certainly nothing new these days. Many large cities, such as New York City, have had community garden projects for years. Even obscure locations, such as the Wadi Rum desert region in Jordan, have organic vegetable projects grown by local inhabitants.
My own experience with these “home grown” veggie projects only began this Spring, when I signed up to participate in a community garden project being sponsored by the Netanya Municipality. After living for years in apartments and having less than satisfactory results growing veggies and herbs in window sills and balconies, I jumped at the chance
to have my own small plot to grow garden vegetables and fresh herbs.
This project began in early April when I received my 2.5 X 1.5 meter plot next to the Ir Yamin cultural center in south Netanya (above photo). In this location, each participant also received seedling starter plants such as tomato, pepper, cucumber,kohlrabi,lettuce, kale, eggplant; and a variety of herbs from the Municipality. The plots are irrigated from drip irrigation systems already in place. The gardens are organic in nature with no pesticides or commercial fertilizers being used, other than natural compost material.
Malcolm, an employee of the Municipality and in charge of Netanya’s 6 community plots (photo) was on hand to give advice and assist plot holders in planting and tending their crops. Being a former immigrant from Ethiopia, Malcolm has been especially helpful with members of his own ethnic community, many of whom are enthusiastically involved in group garden plots in several locations.
“The idea of the group community gardens was formulated to help encourage a feeling of community and of belonging to the particular community where the gardens are located” says Lou Hammer, who previously immigrated to Israel from the USA and is involved in a community garden project in the Dora neighborhood in southern Netanya.
“We have brought people with disabilities here to see the gardens and to participate in planting and growing vegetables. Just seeing the happy expressions on their faces when their ‘crops’ are ready to harvest is proof enough to the success of these community garden projects,” adds Hammer.
Malcolm hopes to write a book on community garden projects and tailor it to school children to increase their interest in agriculture and ‘working the land’. “I also would like to teach kids to grow crops, which will hopefully give them more community awareness as well” he says.
Read more on community and home garden projects: