A community garden is an amazing way to connect with your neighbors and community while growing your own fruit and vegetables. There is something truly heartwarming about tending a garden with family and friends. It turns into a sociable and fun activity to do together.
Over the past decade, the number of community gardens around the world has soared. Many people wish to grow their own crops but when you are living in an urban area where land is limited and property prices are very high it becomes impossible. Urban farming in a community can be a great solution for this.
Why are people opting for a community garden
- To encourage healthy eating habits
- Most people are living in urban areas
- Educating children and getting them away from screens
- In response to the rising costs of food
- To transport eyesores into something more productive
- To help the poor
Get your Community Garden Started!
Step 1: Find your Land
Find an area in your town where you want to start your community garden. This can be an abandoned parking lot, a local park, a school or a field that has not been used for a while. Find the owner and make sure you get permission to use the area.
It is ideal to do proper soil testing before getting started to make sure there are no harmful chemicals in the ground. You may need to take out liability insurance to protect the landowner. Ideally, the site will have easy access, parking, and amenities such as running water.
Step 2: Get your community together
Put out flyers, open a Facebook group, advise any community centers and churches. Get interested people to sign up. It is ideal to get started on a smaller scale and grow as you go. People initially are hesitant to participate in such projects but once they start seeing progress and start seeing the fruit, they are more happy to join.
Step 3: Time for a Meeting
Get interested people together. It’s time to put your community garden ideas on paper! Find out what everyone wants to grow. Will it be an edible garden, flowers, trees? What does everyone have in mind? It is important to have a SINGLE VISION for your community garden. So it is important to lay this down for people to agree to or request changes right away! These can be discussed and amended together.
Discuss any costs and how people wanting to contribute towards covering the costs. Don’t forget to find our if you are entitled to apply for a grant that will be of great help to get the project going.
Step 4: Lay down some rules!
You want this to be a fun project for everyone. Rules will help you remove potential sources of conflict.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Will everyone be growing their own crops?
- What will happen with the extra crops? Should they be sold or donated to the local food bank?
- Will members pay a monthly or yearly fee? When should this be paid? How will it be used?
- What are the opening hours for the garden?
- Will you choose a set of leaders?
- Will members have an I.D to be able to access the garden?
- What kind of fertilizers or pesticides are allowed?
- Will gardeners share tools?
- How will basic maintenance be handled?
- Do you need a waiting list for more members?
Step 5: Community Garden Design
Every community garden is different based on its specific size, location, and goals. Design your garden to fit the needs of the community it serves. Consider factors such as age-appropriate design, accessibility, protection from animals or vandalism, storage of tools, and space to gather. Have a raised bed or plot for each person so that everyone is responsible for their own “garden”.
It is a good idea to set aside one or two boxes for herbs which everyone can share. Plan to have some space to store tools, making compost and of course pathways for easy access, Consider creating a special garden just for kids—including them is essential.
Step 6: Start Composting
No garden is good to go without a composting system. The 3-bin composting system is a great way to always have compost ready at all times. Watch this for more information on the 3-bin composting system.
Step 7: Start Growing
It’s time to start planting. Start with one bed at a time. Once the project is up and running, celebrate your wins and get everyone involved. Invite visitors and share updated on your social media on how the community garden is benefiting the neighborhood. Partners, sponsors and new members will want to know more and join the movement!
Have you ever considered starting a community garden? Or are you already part of a successful community garden in your neighborhood? Let us know in the comments! If you have any great community garden ideas we’d love to hear from you too!