The ROI of community gardens

Yesterday’s email brought in a couple of questions about whether community gardens would be a valuable enough use of the Garden City Lands. Well, I’ve heard that the City of Richmond charges only $40 per year for each garden (also known as an allotment or plot). That doesn’t seem like a big amount of revenue, but I calculated anyway.

At community garden sites, each garden is typically 3 x 9 metres. With access paths, that means that a hectare could support about 300 gardens, which also happens to be near the upper end of the ideal size for each group of gardens and gardeners—each garden community. The revenue would be $12,000 per one-hectare community. After administrative costs, the return on investment (ROI) is negligible if one’s vision is limited to dollars and cents.

I suppose it’s also hard to make a great case for Richmond’s playing fields if one’s vision of ROI is blinkered like that. It is the value of playing fields for wellness that matters.

Similarly, the value of garden communities for community wellness is immense. Visit one of the Richmond’s garden communities like the ones at Terra Nova and the South Dyke and you’ll soon understand how they foster physical, mental and social health for individuals and a harmonious community.

Having several of these garden communities on the Garden City Lands should actually bring a financial return from agritourists and ecotourists to our aptly branded Garden City, and the benefits for our hospitality industry from those growth areas of tourisms should be significant. Still, the core ROI is in community wellness.

Quick reminder: Free Power of Community film event about urban agriculture, Richmond Hospital Auditorium, Tuesday, March 16, at 7 p.m.


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