There are many similarities to farming your own space and growing food in a community garden, but there are some major challenges that separate the two. When growing food alone, you are in control of what is being grown, when, and where. Creating and following your best practices on soil health, what can be grown where, and when to harvest are solely your responsibility. But when you participate in a community garden, things are a bit different.

The main thing that you should keep in mind is the word “community.” It is defined as a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society. They can take different forms in different neighborhoods. Generally, they begin with a group of people, and a dream. People can come together to clean up an empty lot or to preserve the land and its habitat. Each community creates a garden of its own design, one that meets the needs of the community and potentially becomes the center of community life and vitality.

They can enhance nutrition and physical activity while improving quality of life for some or can create opportunities to organize around other issues and build social engagement. Community gardens began at the turn of the 20th century and had a renaissance during the world wars in response to food shortages. Populations with health disparities, who don’t always have access to nutritious-food outlets such as grocery stores or farmers’ markets, or with limited financial and community resources and inconvenient transportation systems. These are the communities that usually access these gardens today.

From developing the land to coordinating gardeners, community gardens can be a lot of work. But many hands and good planning, can make the job easier to cultivate food and community and on a human scale.