April is National Keep America Beautiful Month, National Volunteer Month and National Garden Month. What better time to hone your gardening skills and volunteer on a community greening project than during a beautiful spring April here in The Natural State!
The benefits to gardening are all around you. Keep reading for our top reasons why gardening is a worthwhile personal hobby and an essential part of your community’s sustainability.
Our Community’s Livability
Gardens bring people together to create socially connected communities. Studies suggest that crime rates are decreased when beautification efforts are increased. Not only does a garden make a space more aesthetically pleasing, it also fosters a sense of ownership, stewardship and personal success among the gardeners, increasing interest in other forms of community improvement.
Many types of gardens enhance a community’s liveability by adding more green spaces and filling in vacant lots and run-down properties. “Pocket parks” are becoming more popular in Arkansas as declining downtowns are revitalized and regenerated with activity. The Thad Kelly Courtyard in Helena, Arkansas, is a pocket park developed in the footprint where a buildling once stood, now providing a pleasant and colorful respite in the middle of downtown.
Another type of garden that has seen a spike in popularity is the community garden. Typically devoted to growing edibles, these community (or “urban”) gardens offer opportunities for gardners to collaborate in cultivating quality, homegrown fruits and vegetables for their neighbors and local eateries. The Little Rock Urban Farming project is a great example of this type of urban garden.
Community gardens are also used as outdoor classrooms to teach students creativity, planning and problem-solving – as well as empowering them with a lifelong hobby and skill. Dunbar Garden Community Project in Little Rock, cultivated by volunteers, is a prime example of an outdoor gardening classroom. “This whole place is our classroom,” one Gibbs Elementary student is quoted as saying on the Dunbar Garden’s website.
All of these gardens enhance a community’s liveability, provide green spaces where vacant lots once stood, create places of volunteerism, collaboration and education, and empower their keepers to create, cultivate and grow.
Your Unique Opportunity
If you think you’re ready to begin your community greening and gardening adventure, we can help! Through May, Keep Arkansas Beautiful is giving away gardening kits provided by Keep America Beautiful. This is the perfect time for you to test your green thumb. For more information and how to enter for the giveaway, visit Keep Arkansas Beautiful’s Facebook page.
There are also many, many neighborhood and community cleanups and beautification projects scheduled through May across Arkansas during the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup. Find one here and dig in to help keep The Natural State clean and green!