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Can We Cooperate? 10 Books about Community Gardening

~ Why Is It Hard to Cooperate? ~

Everyone agrees that cooperating with others is a good thing. So why is it so hard to do and so rare to find in school s and business?

It Requires Sharing

It's hard, because being cooperative is dependent on being willing to share. When we work with others, we may need to share space, materials, ideas, and most importantly, our time.

It Requires Giving Up Our Independence

Secondly, cooperation takes giving up our independence. We need to take time to listen to others' ideas, even ones we disagree with or think are useless. We have to help less skilled people participate fully. We have match our schedule to that of other people.

It Requires Giving Up Personal Recognition

Most important, in our highly competitive society, we have to give all the credit to the group. In fact, this is one of the great problems with cooperative learning in schools. Teachers struggle when grading group projects, because most cooperative groups have a mix of strong and weak members.

Cooperation Does Work

However, when participants enter a cooperative group willingly, and when everyone is passionately focused on the mission, then the problems listed above disappear.

Successful cooperative projects -

  • grow out of a shared need.
  • have tasks and roles that match the abilities of the members
  • reward everyone in the group twice over

One of the best examples of a cooperative project is the community garden.Cooperate Community Garden

A  community garden grows out of everyone's need for fresh healthy food.  Gardening involves tasks that are easily matched to members. Adults can spade and hoe. Children can plant seeds and weed. Everyone can water and harvest. And that harvest rewards everyone more than twice over by giving members better food, better health, and a feeling of accomplishment.

10 Books about Community Gardening to Share

City Green by Diane DiSalvo-Ryan A young girl and her neighbor start a garden in a vacant lot. Soon everyone in the community is helping out. Elementary

Community Soup by Alma Fullerton  A group of school children in Kenya start a school garden. But one student has a troublesome goat. Preschool-Lower Elementary

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin This biography of retired basketball star and MacArthur Grant winner Will Allen shows how he developed urban gardening methods to help city dwellers grow their own food. Upper Elementary

The Garden of Happiness by Erika Tamar  A little girl wants to plant a seed she's found, but there isn't room in the community garden. So she plants it in a crack, and soon it brings everyone happiness.

The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen In this inspirational book Will Allen, shares his life, how racism affected him, and broadens our perspective on food. High School-Adult

Our Community Garden by Barbara Pollack  This is the story of a group of children and how they plant, care for, harvest and then eat the food they grow in their community garden. Elementary

Our School Garden by Richard Swan A community school garden helps a new boy feel comfortable. Full of activity ideas realted to gardening. Elementary

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman In this Newberry award winner, a drab lot in Cleveland is turned into a garden, and in the process, heals the division between the diverse members of the neighborhood. Told in the form of 13 short stories. Upper Elementary-Middle School

Water, Weed and Wait by Edith Hope Fine  A school garden brings the neighborhood together. Elementary

Want to start a community garden?

Here are some resources:

10 Steps to Starting a Community Garden

Nine Community Gardens that Work

Edible Gardens


Do you have a community garden?

We welcome your thoughts and comments.



Teach Peace Now
Teach Peace Now

We offer books, activities, lesson plans, and ideas that teachers, parents, and students can use to promote values, attitudes and behaviors which encourage non-violent resolution of conflict, respect for human rights, democracy, intercultural understanding and tolerance.

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