Creating a Community Garden
The planning and foresight needed to start a community garden may seem daunting, but the rewards are bountiful. From putting healthy food on your table and those of your neighbors to a great sense of accomplishment, a community garden goes a long way.
Key Steps in Building a Community Garden
Organize Meeting of Interested People:
Determine if there is a desire for a garden; Identify possible locations; Decide what type of garden; What types of vegetables are needed within the community?; Decide when to start the garden; Decide who the garden will serve
Form Planning Committee:
To lead garden’s fundraising / resource management, construction, communication; What skills and resources does your garden already have?
(City municipalities: water, electricity; Horticulture skills from participants; Set budget; Seeds, plants, soils)
Determine Funding Resources:
Seek partnerships or monetary sponsorships to help cover cost of garden
(Churches, community groups, recreation departments, local supply companies); Monthly dues can help raise funds needed. (necessity depends on garden goals)
Select size - small vegetable patch, medium facility at a park or larger facility (Urban gardens enhance the beauty of a city);
Prepare & Develop Site:
Prepare land, clean and plow site; Test soil for nutrients and heavy metals; Make sure site gets plenty of sunlight a day (6+ hours is optimal); Recruit volunteers to assist in building the garden infrastructure. (Fencing; Garden Boxes; Soil; Seed bank)
Organize the Garden:
Name garden; Research plants that grow well together; How many plots will be available?; How will plots be assigned? (in other words: age, family); Will there be a community storage facility?; Community compost plan
Determine Garden Rules:
Set any conditions for membership: residence, dues, compliance with rules; Define community resources: hoses, rakes, tools; Delegate routine garden tasks: weeding, maintenance
Welcome new members; Advertise available facilities; Awareness of social opportunities at garden
Keep Members in Touch:
Set regular monthly or bi-monthly meetings to keep gardeners on same page; Hold cooking demonstrations on how to use food from the garden; Set up a Facebook page or simple email newsletter
Starting a community garden takes hard work, commitment and dedication, but once you get started, it can also be incredibly rewarding, not to mention fruitful. And the more people you involve, the more hands you will have to help, which is the whole purpose of a community garden in the first place - to create something nourishing and important that also builds relationships within your community. A garden's ability to unite people and improve the health of those it serves should not be underestimated.
Washington, D C