Home News Gardens and libraries – how they’re helping communities

Gardens and libraries – how they’re helping communities


Along with communitywide improvements around the world, individuals in the U.S. are growing their own food at home, creating positive environmental change household by household. 

1. United States

“Climate victory gardens” are feeding Americans while contributing to a healthier environment. During World War I and II, some 20 million families across the United States planted victory gardens, supplying 40% of the country’s produce at their height. During the pandemic, backyard gardening has again grown in popularity. Green America, a nonprofit that helps people grow their own food as a way to fight climate change, has seen a jump in gardens registered with the organization from 8,670 in 2021 to 14,655 in just the first two months of this year.

Why We Wrote This

In our progress roundup, communities around the globe pursued goals to improve the lives of their own residents. But the positive impact of their self-improvement plans often reaches beyond.

What makes a garden a climate victory garden, according to the organization, is its regenerative impact, avoiding pesticides and harmful chemicals and feeding both the gardener and pollinators. That type of farm, no matter how small, can sequester more than 25 tons of carbon per acre, according to methodology adapted from the nonprofit Project Drawdown and the Environmental Protection Agency. Although many gardeners have not formally registered, Green America estimates the gardens it’s aware of have offset the emissions of the equivalent of 39 million miles driven.

A volunteer weeds the Pounder Vegetable Garden, a demonstration space to study the impacts of a changing climate, at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

2. Colombia

A public library in Colombia is keeping Indigenous stories and traditions alive. The mountainside town of Atánquez in the Kankuamo Indigenous reserve had never had a library, which meant there was nowhere to put a box of books delivered by the National Network of Public Libraries in 2013. So residents spruced up an abandoned building with tables, chairs, and shelves, creating a makeshift library. But they didn’t stop at books.

Today, children in the community regularly take part in library programming, from outings in which they try their hand at drawing ancient petroglyphs to gatherings with elders who share traditional music, recipes, and history. During the pandemic, the library gave kids recorders to document the stories of their family members and distributed seeds and groceries to those in need.
For decades, many Indigenous people in the area had distanced themselves from their culture to assimilate to mainstream Colombian society. This project is helping change that. “Little by little our people are falling in love and valuing what they are as indigenous peoples,” said Ener Crispin Cáceres, a Kankuamo elder. In 2017, the library won Colombia’s national library award and has earned international recognition.
The Guardian

3. Italy

An Italian town with a violent past made a new name for itself by promoting cultural tourism. Mamoiada sits in the heart of the island of Sardinia in a region the Romans once called Barbària. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Mamoiada became infamous for a series of killings linked to a family feud. But instead of giving up on the troubled town, where economic opportunities were scarce, residents and local administrators harnessed the region’s cultural strengths.


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