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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.

 

Troubleshooting:

  • 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

 

Further Resources: