In the world of community gardens private property vs. community property is a debate that comes to life every spring. NPR did a radio piece framing both sides of the issue. (I recommend listening to the link found at the bottom.) The problem is: How can a bunch of people, with varying ideas and levels of commitment, farm a single piece of land without destroying each other? The two common approaches are:
1. Farm one big plot communally.
2. Stake out plots within the garden to be farmed separately.
The pros and cons of each:
- “People can come show up and join the garden –opposed to being on a wait-list.”
- There is the potential for a tight knit community.
- “Some days it felt like because everybody owned the garden nobody owned the garden…somebody else will take care of it.”
- “Our experience is that there is an unequal participation and an unequal sharing.”
- “Less drama and less discouragement…if members start shirking their responsibility it’s not your problem.”
- A tendency to not participate with each other.
How is this connected to Real Estate? The structure of a community garden is a microcosm of the structure we inhabit the earth with, (Private property laws, state borders, national borders, etc.).
In Texas we have land ownership laws to help ensure fairness. But what is lost in this structure?
I’m not advocating for changing government or getting rid of land laws. I’m advocating for the consideration that other ways to exist on the land might be possible –even within the current structure.
Communal gardening could be a great way to experiment without severely endangering your lifestyle.
As one NPR interviewee put it, “Sure, the most troublesome part of a community garden is the community. But that community, if you can pull it off, is way more valuable than the vegetables.”
NPR Interview: At The Community Garden, It’s Community That’s The Hard Part.