A Community Garden:
For those people who live in cities or have wooded gardens, a community garden is a great way to get your hands dirty and grow some flowers and vegetables. Community gardens are a powerful way to bring neighborhoods together, reduce crime and get some family time, exercise and relaxing. They can also reduce crime especially when grown on a vacant lot. Get together with some neighbors who are interested and decide on a vision: working together step by step your garden will flourish. Here are some guidelines to follow to start your own organic community garden:
Choose An Organic Garden:
An organic garden is a non-toxic environment free from chemicals and pesticides. Organic methods such as composting and mulching create a balanced environment by building the fertility of the soil. Soil rich in nutrients fosters healthy, strong plants that fight insects and disease in harmony with the earth.
Form a Planning Committee:
- Organize a meeting or gathering of interested people.
- Determine the kind of garden you will build: vegetable or flower gardens. Will there be a bench or a fountain?
- Who will the garden serve?
- Make friends with the neighbors.
Choose a Site:
- Identify the owner of the land.
- Obtain a lease or agreement.
- Determine the availability of water.
- Ensure that the chosen piece of land gets at least 6 hours of sunlight daily (especially for vegetables).
- Do a soil test in the fall for heavy metals and nutrients.
Prepare the site:
- Design the garden.
- Decide on plot sizes and mark plots clearly with gardeners’ names.Organize volunteer work crews.
- Make and post a rain proof bulletin board to announce messages and garden events.
The Garden Organization:
- Will you arrange your garden structure formally or informally?
- Will you be a non-profit group or a club?
- Will you have by-laws or rules/guidelines?
- Determine your conditions for membership.
- Determine if there will be a set of written rules to uphold, and how they will be enforced
- Will the gardeners share tools, hose etc?
- How will the group deal with vandalism or other problems that may arise?
How to manage the garden:
Having written rules is important as they specify what exactly is expected from a gardener and what will happen should they abandon or neglect their plot.
- Make friends with the neighbors by trading flowers or vegetables for a watchful eye
- Invite everyone to participate to prevent bad blood in the neighborhood
- Involve children
- Make a sign for the garden
- Fence the garden
- How Does Your Garden Grow: A Guide to Community Garden Success by Laura Berman
- Billy Oh’s comprehensive guide to starting a garden: https://billyoh.com/blog/garden/comprehensive-guide-gardening/
- University of California Cooperative Extension Community Garden Start up Guide:http://celosangeles.ucdavis.edu/garden/articles/startup_guide.html