Why Protect Urban Green Space?

Benefits of Green Space

  • Recreational
  • Reading
  • Walking dogs
  • Play
  • Contemplate
  • Cooling in the summer
  • Warming in winter
  • Restoration to well-being
  • Growing food
  • Environmental teaching space
  • Raise property values
  • Community gathering place
  • Visual assets
  • Urban green space
  • Absorb rainwater runoff
  • Aesthetic

Ecological Benefits

  • Green spaces provide habitat for a variety of birds, fish, animals, insects, and other organisms, while also providing corridors and greenways to link habitats.
  • They prevent soil erosion and absorb rainwater, thereby improving drainage.
  • Trees have been shown to absorb pollutants; as few as 20 trees can offset the pollution from a car driven 60 miles per day.
  • The urban heat island effect occurs often in urbanized areas, where buildings, asphalt, and concrete absorb solar radiation and then reomit it as heat, causing the air temperature of the city to rise.
  • Plants have been shown to reduce the urban heat island effect, directly by shading heat absorbing surfaces, and indirectly through evapotranspirational (ET) cooling.
  • In studies, vegetation has been shown to lower wall surface temperatures by 17′C, which led to a reduced air conditioner use by an average of 50% (McPherson, 1994).
  • Green spaces can also reduce noise pollution, by dense screens of trees and shrubs, and can even cleanse partially-treated wastewater.
  • Finally, green spaces and their inhabitants are a good indicator of overall ecological health of the ecosystem. This is an important measure in judging the ecological sustainability of the community.

Social Benefits

  • Provides recreational use: a place to play, meditate, gather, or rest.
  • Green spaces give a sense of social place, allow one to gain social recognition, enhance feelings of family kinship and solidarity, allow one to teach and lead others, provide opportunity to reflect on personal and social values, promote spiritual growth, and in general allow users to feel free, independent, and more in control than is possible in a more structured home and work environment.
  • Green spaces introduce the natural into the urban environment.
  • Green spaces provide a refreshing contrast to the harsh shape, color, and texture of buildings, and stimulate the senses with their simple color, sound, smell, and motions (Dorward, 1990; Miller, 1997).
  • Green spaces foster a connection between community residents and the natural environment that surrounds them, thus allowing for a more livable city. This is essential in order for a community to be sustainable.

Environmental Benefits

  • Reduces liquid waste and water consumption (low-flow plumbing, rainwater collection, drought-resistant landscaping etc.)
  • Reduces solid waste (household garbage limits etc.)
  • Provides local recycling and composting centers.
  • Is a community facilities constructed in environmentally sound ways.
  • Community gardens provide chemical-free food production and gardening.

Other Benefits

  • Displays public art.
  • Offers green spaces for birds, animals, and plants, understanding that green spaces are important not just for human recreation/use.

Green Space is Socially Valuable

  • In all walks of life, green space draws people outside and fosters social contact.
  • Provides open green spaces where people can congregate and opportunities for positive social interaction and supportive friendly environments.
  • Studies have found that residents living near green common spaces “had more social activities and more visitors, knew more about their neighbors, reported their neighbors were more concerned with helping and supporting one another and had stronger feelings of belonging” (Environmental News Network).
  • Green spaces promote safer neighborhoods. When residents have more vested interests in a place, their participation in community vigilance increases, and they will watch to make sure it’s not being misused, damaged, etc. The better maintained a residence or public space is, the safer it is going to be.
  • Natural areas promote livability and vitality of communities. Recreational opportunities, good air and water quality and scenic beauty will attract new residents, families and tourism.
  • Green spaces will attract middle class residents to move into areas of the city that may be lower income without practicing gentrification.
  • What would you rather be surrounded by: concrete or plant life? Easy, right? Plants.
  • Green spaces attract businesses, create jobs and raise property value.
  • It also strengthens social bonds in places where those kinds of ties are so badly needed.

As we pave over more and more open green space, we should keep in mind that we’re losing more than a few inconsequential trees and shrubs. We’re loosing an important human resource.

Benefits of Community Gardening

Community Organizing

  • Community gardens give neighbors an ongoing focus for community organizing efforts.
  • Community gardens bring underrepresented groups into other community organizing efforts.
  • Community gardens increase a sense of community ownership and stewardship.
  • Community gardens build community leaders.
  • Community gardens provide mutuality and common interests among community members.

Crime Prevention

  • Community gardens provide opportunities to meet neighbors.
  • Community gardens increase eyes on the street.
  • Community gardeners become more familiar with what is happening in their community.

Youth

  • Community gardens offer unique opportunities to teach youth about:
    • Where food comes from
    • Direct math skills
    • Basic business principles
    • The importance of community stewardship
    • Issues of environmental sustainability

Food Production

  • Many community gardeners take advantage of food production in community gardens to provide a significant source of food and/or income.
  • Community gardeners sell produce to restaurants and at farmers markets.
  • Urban agriculture is 3-5 times more productive per acres as traditional large-scale farming.
  • Reduction in cost and pollution related to packaging, cooling, transportation, and preservation make urban food production highly efficient.

Cultural Opportunities

  • Gardening is an important part of every human culture.
  • Offers a cultural exchange with other gardeners in terms of the types of produce grown and recipes shared.
  • Community gardens offer neighborhoods an access point to non-English speaking communities.
  • Community gardens allow people from diverse backgrounds to work side-by-side on common goals without speaking the same language. WHERE ELSE CAN YOU DO THIS?

Health

  • Community gardens are beneficial to the specific health concerns affecting lower-income urban communities.
  • Eating locally produced food reduces asthma rates because children are able to consume manageable amounts of local pollen and develop immunities.
  • Exposure to green space reduces stress and increases sense of wellness and belonging.
  • Increasing the consumption of fresh healthy produce is one of the best ways to address childhood lead poisoning.

Green Space

  • Lower-income neighborhoods have access to less green space than other parts of the city.

Community gardening brings benefits to individuals, neighborhoods, communities and the cities they are part of.

Individual Benefits

Health

Community gardening is an active pursuit yielding fresh food. The benefits include:

  • By growing some of their own food, individuals and families have access to fresh, nutritious food and the mixed meals that support nutritional health.
  • Because it involves physical activity, community gardening promotes physical fitness and health.

Learning

  • Learning to grow plants is mentally stimulating and adds to an individual’s knowledge and expertise.
  • Because organic gardening is a knowledge-based system of gardening rather than one based on quick fixes, it encourages learning in the community gardens in which it is used.
  • Community gardens are used by community education and universities as learning venues.
  • Gardens are used for community education such as waste minimization and the recycling of wastes through composting and mulching.

Social Benefits

  • Community gardening is a social activity involving shared decision-making, problem solving and negotiation, increasing these skills among gardeners.
  • As places where people come together with a common purpose, community gardens are places where people get to meet others.
  • As social venues, community gardens can be used to build a sense of community and belonging; community workers already use the gardens for these purposes.

Urban Improvement

  • Community gardens re-green vacant lots and bring vegetation diversity to public open space and other areas, making them a useful tool for urban improvement.
  • By diversifying the use of open space and creating the opportunity for passive and active recreation, community gardens improve the urban environment.
  • The diversity of plant types found in community gardens provides habitat for urban wildlife, increasing their value for improving the natural environment.

Improving Organizational Practice

  • Local and state government organizations cooperating with community gardeners can improve relations with citizens and, by cooperating with each other, can improve organizational performance.
  • Community gardens can demonstrate local government policy, such as waste recycling, and community development.
  • Cooperation between local organizations, government and citizens can strengthen civil society.

By the year 2025 it is expected that 80% of the United States population will live in urban areas (Parlange 1998: 581). This causes concerns not only for the quality of life for humans, but for all biological systems and the natural environment. The urban environment is an ecosystem and needs to be treated as such. Although it may be difficult, it is possible to view today’s cities as an interdependent web of relations. As in any environment, diversity is required in the our modern day industrialized cities.