Everyday Advocacy: Community Gardens

"Obstacles can become opportunities for more community involvement in community-driven solutions."

Sarah Oerther, MSN, M.Ed., RN, F.RSPH


I helped establish the first community garden in a small college town in rural Missouri to address food insecurity. With prior experience in starting a school feeding program in Tanzania and a community garden in urban Cincinnati, I saw students living in rental units and low-income community members who were food insecure. Community gardens provide subplots of arable land where members grow fresh produce, which can help in areas of food insecurity or food deserts.

With a lot of work, we converted unused land donated by the town into green vegetable plots for 20 families. The garden improved access to fresh vegetables for international families and low-income community members.

One of the biggest challenges was deer! Overcoming this obstacle created an opportunity for an Eagle Scout volunteer project for members of the local Boy Scout troop who built a fence to keep animals away from the vegetables, involving another segment of our community.

For anyone interested in starting a community garden, I recommend speaking with your local university extension specialist who should be able to help plan your effort. If there seems to be support for the idea of a community garden, form a group to take charge of the project. I have seen communities in need come together to contribute towards the effort in amazing ways.


Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation – Have you accepted the challenge?