The Urban Oasis

10 August 2011


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Sheep, Mudchute Farm. Copyright © James Darling, Every Action Counts, August 2011.Sheep, Mudchute Farm. Copyright © James Darling, Every Action Counts, August 2011.

It’s revealing how many times the word ‘oasis’ occurs when people talk about the city farm or community garden in their neighbourhood: oasis of peace, oasis of wildlife, oasis of green among all the concrete and bricks.

It’s a word that comes to mind naturally (though the word ‘haven’ comes a close second) quite simply because it is so apt.

Just like a desert oasis, these community-managed green spaces are places that are sought out by some and a surprise discovery for others.

They are welcoming places where people gather together – in the desert it is thirsty travellers, while the urban oasis welcomes anyone regardless of age, ethnicity or ability, either as a visitor just passing through, or someone keen to dwell as a volunteer or staff member.

A desert oasis is somewhere people can rest and recuperate. So too the urban garden or community farm, where there are proven improvements to health and well-being through the exercise and relaxation such spaces provide.

It’s a good comparison.  But it’s not a full one, because city farms and community gardens are about much, much more than being a great place to visit or volunteer.

These spaces can create huge benefits for local communities – they are great educational resources for young people to learn about the land, food and where it comes from. They are places where people can learn skills or undertake training. Larger sites offer an array of facilities, from cafes to crèches.  And they are vital hubs producing activities and ideas that help bind communities together.

To find out more visit www.farmgarden.org.uk.

Cow, Mudchute Farm. Copyright © Mudchute Park and Farm, August 2011.

Post by Ken Elkes from the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens.

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