Depending on where you live, you may be looking out your window at sunshine and the first blooms of the season...or you might be seeing a dreary, snow-studded sky. But regardless of the current forecast, Spring is here and that means gardening time is nearly upon us. These five stories from Strong Towns writers across the country touch on many different aspects of gardening—from its ability to positively shape communities to the ways it can provide fresh, affordable food for a neighborhood. 

1. What I learned from my first garden

by Rachel Quednau

"By growing my own food, I felt a renewed sense of value for it, and for not discarding anything that wasn’t clearly inedible. This garden experiment has given me a greater appreciation for all the food I eat—no matter the source—as well as the people who grow it."

Rachel uses her first experience with gardening to discuss broader issues of conservation, small-scale growth and reuse.

2. Regenerative Citizenship and the Victory Garden

by Jessica Cohodes

"A Victory Garden doesn’t just grow healthy food.  It builds a regenerative foundation for creating surplus through the active responsibility of its citizens' output.  A Victory Garden tests and adjusts the resiliency measures on which public policy sits." 

In this story, Jessica explains how she and her friends started a citywide victory garden initiative in Milwaukee, WI through bottom-up action.

3. Cultivating Imagination

by Sara Joy Proppe

"We must build places that enable us to see the lives of others with knowledge, love, and compassion. This means getting our hands dirty in the soil of our community."

In this essay, Sara Joy considers the meaning of neighborhood activism and small steps like building a community garden, in light of a recent tragedy in her community.

4. The Democratized Economy: From Growing Local to Growing Local Entrepreneurs

by Alexander Dukes

"From an economic development perspective, the primary purpose of these gardens is to act as a sort of catalyst from which other economic activities may spring. While a garden may not be much of a boon in a monetary sense, community gardens do generate positive externalities that lay the groundwork for economic prosperity."

In this article, Alexander shows how community gardens can be a catalyst for entrepreneurship and economic development.

5. The Allendale Garden of Hope and Love

by Rachel Quednau

"To lose this garden because of an unnecessary inner city highway would not just be a loss of beauty and fresh food, it would also be a loss of neighborhood history, positivity and fellowship."

In this article, Rachel shares the history behind a transformative community garden in Shreveport, LA and the highway project that might destroy it.

Are you a gardener? Will you be planting a garden in your neighborhood this spring? Tell us about it in the comments.