There is no doubt that Washington Park's changes have had a great impact on its surrounding community, but the work of the community members themselves cannot be overlooked as having an effect. A community garden, by definition, is "a piece of land cultivated by members of a community." In this case, the pieces of land in question range from open lots to private side or backyards. Many of the gardens lie in clear view of streets that extend beyond the boundaries of the Washington Park neighborhood -- streets like W. Brown Street, W. Lisbon Avenue, N. 35th Street, N. 37th Street, and a few more. Not only do these streets have the highest amounts of car and foot traffic, but they help define the neighborhood.
Community gardens have taken on several roles in the Washington Park neighborhood, with there being a particular emphasis on vegetable gardens. The Victory Garden Initiative "empowers communities to grow food, reintegrating human and food ecology and advancing a resilient food culture." This organization helps start new gardens, teaches classes, and promotes community involvement through mentorship. These qualities alone exemplify the assets the neighborhood already has in place. Outsiders first entering the community are able to see these gardens and conclude that this is a place of health, learning, and sustainability. More importantly, however, is how the people living in the area are affected by these gardens. With learning how to grow their own food, these community members are able to provide food security for themselves and their families as well as engage with the people around them. There is a great sense of pride in being able to see how your food gets from the garden to the plate, and it is something to be shared with future generations that will make this community prosper.
The gardens in Washington Park range from Victory Gardens to those open to the community. There are some larger gardens at the neighborhood's Urban Ecology Center and on the corner of W. Cherry Street and N. 32nd Street, but there are two gardens in particular that strongly engage the community. The first is a demonstration garden located behind Amaranth Bakery & Cafe, and the second is on W. Brown Street and N. 32nd Street. The second garden was started by a man named Sam Thurman next to his house. Sam is a community advocate who placed 12 beds for community use. These two gardens are prime assets for the neighborhood, as they show what can be done with unused land that benefits everyone.