Education Resources

Questions for discussion:

  • How were community gardens used as more than only a place to grow food? 
  • Why were community gardens so crucial during times of war and economic strife in 20th century America? What problems did gardens organizers seek to alleviate or address? 
  • Take a moment to brainstorm about some of the issues impacting your home or school community. Do you think a community garden could remedy or tackle these problems? How so?  Take it a step further by picking one of these issues, and in small groups designing a community garden that is part of the solution to the problem at hand. 

Projects:

  • Smithsonian Gardens Green Ambassador Challenge: Apply what you have learned about the history of community gardens to the future of green spaces in your very own community. Up to the task of being a leader, steward, and designer? Take the Smithsonian Gardens Green Ambassador Challenge and make your community a healtheir place by designing and building a green space or garden; we walk you through the process every step of the way!
  • Smithsonian Gardens Community of Gardens digital archive: Interview gardeners in your area or document a community garden and add your story to our digital archive - help us preserve garden history in the United States and become part of the Smithsonian! Click on "Share a Story" in the navigation to get started. 

Further Reading: 

  • Urban farming in Detroit: Harris, Paul. "Detroit gets growing." The Guardian. July 10, 2010. Link to article
  • Refugee community gardens: Bahrampour, Tara. "Communal gardening helps refugees sink roots in a new land." The Washington Post. September 4, 2012. Link to article
  • Profile of Will Allen, founder of Growing Power: Royte, Elizabeth. "Street Farmer." The New York Times. July 1, 2009. Link to article
  • A literary school garden: Link to NPR interview.
  • Bassett, Thomas J. "Reaping on the Margins: A Century of Community Gardening in America." Landscape 25, no. 2 (1981): 1-8.
  • Further reading on Francis Griscom Parsons from the Cultural Landscape Foundation. 
  • Hayden-Smith, Rose. Sowing the Seeds of Victory: American Gardening Programs of World War I. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2014.
  • Lawson, Laura. City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.  
  • Helphand, Kenneth. Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2006.