Terry Garner (left), of The Alabama Community Garden, accepts top awards in three categories including Best Community Garden
This year, the American Community Gardening Association celebrated the excellence and diversity of our member gardens with our first Annual Community Garden Competition. We announced the winners based on a vote by our members (talk about difficult choices!) at ACGA’s 44th annual conference in Houston, Texas. With top awards in three categories and a strong emphasis both on growing and cultivating strong neighborhood roots, the 2023 Best Community garden award went to Houston’s Alabama Community Garden.
OVERALL WINNER: With top awards in 3 categories and a strong emphasis both on growing and cultivating strong neighborhood roots, the 2023 Best Community Garden Award went to the Alabama Community Garden in Houston TX. Established almost four decades ago in Houston’s 3rd ward, a traditionally black neighborhood in a food desert, this garden’s long history is celebrated with floor-to-ceiling photos on the walls of one of its garden sheds.
APPEARANCE AND ART: Franklin Park Conservatory Community Garden, Columbus, OH. This garden is a showpiece! From the culinary gardens to the rain gardens and a fireside theater, along with programming for children, this well-funded garden offers beauty and education.
SUSTAINABILITY: Westport Community Garden, Westport, CT. The garden features a pollinator garden, birdhouses, educational signage, and organic practices. Recently, they regenerated land outside the garden using multiple species of native New England trees.
PRODUCTIVITY: Alabama Community Garden, Houston TX. Located in a “food desert”, this garden provides space for neighbors to grow their own food, while also providing education and hands-on help to ensure people are growing the most food they can in their plots.
COMMUNITY: Alabama Community Garden. Not only does Alabama CG teach people how to grow, but they also celebrate the people who created the space and keep it going, with welcoming innovations including a communication tree and a BBQ area.
EMBRACING DIVERSITY: Kashabi Osaaposhi (Sharing Garden), Purcell, OK. Partnering with the Chickasaw Nation, the Sharing Garden provides seeds and recipes with a deep cultural significance, transmitting traditions through shared meals with storytelling on the menu.
DEEP ROOTS: (Tie) Liz Christy Community Garden, NY, NY, and Alabama Community Garden. Liz Christy CG was established in 1973, when neighbors transformed a trash-strewn lot in the heart of Manhattan into an urban oasis with plants, turtles, and a koi pond. The Alabama Community Garden, the oldest in Houston, dates to 1985.
Thanks and congratulations to our runners-up, all with excellent programs: Urban Seed, Eastponte, MI; Wagner Farms Arboretum and Gardens, Warren, NJ; and Wrangle Brook Community Garden, Berkeley Township, NJ; and a shout out to ACGA Board Member Lara Fahnestock of DUG (Denver Urban Gardens) who championed this inspiring contest.