The 5 Best Cities for Urban Gardening

seattle community garden
The Danny Woo International District Community Garden in Seattle

Going green isn’t something that is for individuals to do in their spare time anymore. It has become a way of life, and whole communities, even large cities, are making huge efforts to be more environmentally conscience.

Many cities like Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco are becoming world wide leaders in taking the initiative to become “greener.” Cities like these are using the latest of technology (and the simplest) to make progress in helping our Earth stay healthy. You can feel good about moving to one of these cities if you have the green thumb and feel like getting involved yourself.

One way large cities are becoming green is through urban gardening. Community gardens help bring communities together. They do this by producing food specifically for those in need, hosting youth programs, and reducing crime rates (or, at least, being credited for doing so). They are loaded with fresh, and, in many cases, organic veggies. You can find your local garden the American Community Garden Association’s database.

Here is a list of the top 5 best cities for urban gardening based on the number of community gardens per capita, according to the Trust for Public Land

  1. Seattle: It seems like Seattle is always being mentioned for “going green” for every new and upcoming environmentally friendly technology. They take “going green” to the next level and urban gardening is one of their specialities. Their volunteer-run community gardens offer 1,900 plots and serves more than 3,800 urban gardeners on 23 acres of land. They also have youth gardening program and made a 12.3-ton produce donation in 2008.
  2. Portland: Portland has a community garden program that has been going on since 1975. There is a Produce for People program that donates fresh food for people who are suffering from hunger and are in need. There are 32 community gardens located throughout the city, developed and operated by volunteers and Public Parks & Recreation staff.
  3. Long Beach: The city did a great job locating vacant lots and turning them into urban gardens through the program Long Beach Organic (it’s why it started). LOB has maintained 3 community gardens and one demonstration garden over the last 7 years, and welcomes people of all ethnicity’s to join. Because of the different cultures, many different things grow in these gardens from things like sugar cane to tomatoes.
  4. St. Paul: The city has 17 community gardens half of which are nonprofits and half of which are open to the public. Anyone can come in and set up shop for the ones that are open to the public and many people do. The Blooming Saint Paul program started so that St. Paul could claim the title as the nation’s ‘Most Livable City’. It seems to be working.
  5. Honolulu: The city is densely populated so they have to make the best use of every inch of land they have access to for gardening – and they do. In fact, the Foster Community Garden (shown here) received a Betty Crocker Landscape Award in 2007 for β€œBest Use of a Small Public Space”. They have 11 community gardens and each garden is comprised of individual plots, making a grand total of 1,254 plots for public use.

Editor’s note: Think your city deserved to be on this list? Let us know why…

This post was written by Laura Zanskey

Ready to enjoy your own garden this Spring? Check out our current listings of eco-friendly outdoor furniture, Β including Adirondack and counter chairs.

Image credit: Seattle Municipal Archives at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

  1. Tim Kovach

    I’d argue that Cleveland deserves to be on this list. It was ranked #2 in SustainLane’s 2008 city rankings for local food and may very well have moved up to #1 by now. We have over 225 urban gardens, 25 urban farms (including the 2 largest in the country), have established an urban garden district, and the city council has changed zoning laws to allow residents to keep chickens, bees, and pigs. If all that doesn’t help a city crack the top 5 in your rankings, then I don’t know what will.

  2. Jacob Corvidae

    While I’d echo the hurrah for Cleveland, I’ll also just note that I’m a bit appalled that the Detroit’s not even mentioned here. I’ll dig up more numbers, but Detroit has many active community gardens, several active income generating farms, and an amazing citywide program that builds education, shared resources and other collaborative benefits among gardners and farmers across the city (http://www.detroitagriculture.org/GRP_Website/Home.html).

    Furthermore, Detroit’s Planning Commission is actively working on policy and code for urban agriculture which, according to their colleagues across the nation, is more comprehensive than anything in the country right now.

    Beyond all of that, Detroit’s created a sense of inspiration and amazement of the potential of urban farms for many people across the globe. Too many links for that to insert here.

    Just sayin’….

  3. Dave

    This is a great topic! I find that far too many people don’t give urban gardening the chance they should. I live in a rather populated city in Ontario, Canada, and I look forward to this season every year. It gets me outside in the sun, working, and the final benefits come autumn are a harvest of tasty veggies that I turn into sauces, or herbs that I can dry out for use over the winter. Not to mention the plethora of fresh produce I have all summer long!

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