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Gardens along trails can help introduce urban communities to food systems. Above, squash in the DC Prep garden on the Metropolitan Branch Trail.
 

RTC Resources

Watch the webinar RTC hosted about starting and maintaining gardens along trails.

RTC helped support a community garden along the Metropolitan Branch Trail in Washington, D.C. Learn more...

Urban Pathways Initiative Connect with advocates and professionals working on the challenges of obesity, congestion and scarcity of open space in low-income urban neighborhoods. The initiative provides a space to share innovative resources and best practices that encourage physical activity through trail use in America's cities. Interested? Sign up to participate!

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Go to RTC's Trails and Greenways Publication Library

For more information, please contact the appropriate regional or national office.

 

Additional Resources

American Community Gardening Association

Urban Tilth resources page

Growing a Greener World Episode 110 features Urban Tilth and the gardens along the Richmond Greenway in Richmond, Calif. Watch...

Wildcat Farmers

 

Garden Suppliers

Dripworks: Drip irrigation products

Raintree Nursery: A source for fruit varieties

One Green World: A source for permaculture berries

 

Plan, Design, Build

Gardens

Explore the latest resources on this topic:

Gardens in RTC TrailBlog
Gardens in the Library

Watch our webinar on starting and supporting gardens along trails

The popularity of community gardens has grown significantly in recent years as cities and residents recognize the important advantages they offer. Cultivated and maintained by local neighborhoods and citizens, these gardens allow communities to grow their own fresh produce, food and flowers. In most cities, gardens are created on abandoned or empty parcels, turning unproductive spaces into valuable and active sites.

Urban gardens offer several benefits for local communities and can provide much-needed social, environmental and economic improvements to neighborhoods. Not only do the gardens encourage awareness of food systems by growing fruits and vegetables using local resources, but they also foster community participation by becoming gathering spots for neighborhood residents.

Sustaining a community garden, though, involves challenges such as long-term maintenance, volunteer management and difficult growing environments. Many gardens are located in exposed areas, leaving them susceptible to vandalism. Anyone interested in starting and maintaining community gardens must be prepared by testing soil, selecting appropriate plants and working with a cross-section of the community. Just as a plant cannot take root if the conditions are not right, a garden cannot succeed without the support of a wide variety of neighborhood stakeholders.

Community gardens also offer unique opportunities for recycling and reusing local resources through the use of rainwater for irrigation and composting for plant fertilizer. The environmental benefits associated with urban gardens are important not only to the local community, but to the greater metropolitan area through the increase in accessible green spaces.

Trails provide potential venues for community gardens, and they create important links between a city's green spaces, including parks, recreational areas and community gardens. These links and spaces are vital to the environmental, social and economic health of urban areas, as they reduce the need for motorized transportation and create active and involved communities. For more information about how to form your own community garden on a trail, please view our webinar and see the related links for additional resources.

Here are some examples of gardens along trails or rail lines. Do you work with a garden along a trail? Tell us about it by sending us links and information.

  • DC Prep Garden on the Metropolitan Branch Trail, Washington, D.C.
  • Soo Line Garden on the Midtown Greenway, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Southwest Corridor Park, Boston, Mass. The Southwest Corridor is a linear park above and beside rail lines serviced by Amtrak and MBTA subway and commuter rail. Contact the Boston Natural Areas Network for more information.
  • There are community garden plots along the West 6th Avenue rail corridor in Vancouver, B.C. For more information, contact City Farmer.
  • The St. Paul Community Garden is located along an active rail line in Madison, Wis. Contact the Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin for more information.

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