Back in the 1970’s, Chicago was a leading city in promoting the idea of community gardens. It was recognized that many households did not have the property to cultivate their own gardens, so by the sponsorship of municaple parks departments, local cooperative extension services, nonprofit organizations, schools, churches and many other groups, a national network of urban gardening programs was born. However, during the 1980s, social service funding was severely cut back as, unfortunately, unemployment and food costs were simultaneously growing. As the programs were unable to meet the growing demands of the population, many of the program leaders dove into politics, public relations and business administration. An emergency meeting was organized, including members from A National Community Gardening Task Force, and together formed the American Community Gardening Association.
The ACGA provides resources for developing gardens across the nation, workshops for program coordinators and much more. This program is exciting for all varieties of gardeners. By becoming a ACGA member, you are connected to other volunteers and are provided with the latest techniques and developments in gardening. You are also supporting the developement and expansion of urban gardening. The agency actively researches the impact which gardening has on the community, and supports other aspects of the environment such as urban forestry and the preservation of and management of open space.
I find this organization exciting and growingly innovative. You can be as involved as you want by becoming a member. You can educate yourself on your own time by just reading their newsletter and viewing photos posted on their Facebook page, or you can become very active and attend trainings and conferences. The community involvement not only promotes interacting with each other, and educating the public about gardening and sustainability, but it gives everyone an equal opportunity to provide for themselves and their family by being able to put fresh, nutritious food on the table.