How to Organize a Community Garden
A community garden can bring a neighborhood together while providing a functional purpose for everyone involved. Although many people dream of starting a community garden of their own, doing so can seem like a daunting task. Luckily, starting a community garden is not as hard as it sounds. Here is a quick guide on everything there is to know about getting your community garden up and running.
Step 1 - Start A Planning Group
A planning committee is the driving force behind a successful community garden. Start by meeting with interested people in your neighborhood and determine if a community garden is something everyone wants to pursue. If everyone is on board with the project, then you can start planning the logistics. The committee will need to figure out what kind of garden is needed, its location, and who will build and maintain it. The group should also organize a volunteer workforce that can help get things off the ground.
Step 2 - Attract Sponsors
You will need resources to get a community garden up and running. Some community gardens are supported via membership fees, but for many neighborhoods, a sponsor is a better option. You can ask schools, churches, libraries, or private businesses in your area to see if any would like to contribute funds to the garden. Another option is to raise money through a fundraiser or provide an advertisement to willing sponsors.
Step 3 - Prepare A Site
Once a committee is in place and you have funds to support the garden, you can move forward on the project. When choosing the right site, look for an area that gets plenty of sunlight. You also need a location that has easy access to water. Once you find the ideal spot, contact whoever owns the land and see if they are open to a community garden. You may need to sign an extended lease and obtain proper insurance. With everything in place, you can start developing the land and getting the soil ready for planting.
Step 4 - Organize the Garden
In addition to planting and harvesting, the garden needs to have plenty of storage places for tools, compost, and processing. You also need to designate the different plots in the garden and assign them to garden members. Keep in mind that you will need space around the plots to navigate, so plan accordingly. It is also a good idea to plant some privacy shrubs around the garden to appease neighbors who might not be keen on the idea of a community garden.
Step 5 - Set Rules
Every community garden needs a set of rules to ensure everything runs smoothly. Have your committee come together and outline a set of rules for every gardener to follow. These rules will help community members understand what is expected of them and help keep things in line. Some examples of rules include when dues will be paid, how the garden funds will be spent, how tools are used and distributed, and how plots are assigned. You should also think about sectioning off part of the garden for children, depending on the demographics of your neighborhood.
Step 6 - Keep Up Communication
Communication is key in setting up a successful community garden. You can develop a good communication system by keeping a contact list of committee members and regularly emailing updates. You can also build a community board in the garden where you share information with everyone. If you are having trouble keeping people interested in the garden, consider throwing regular events to help strengthen community ties.
Step 7 - Watch Out For Issues
Vandalism is one of the biggest fears for community gardens. To help curb unwanted destruction, create a sign that is clearly visible that informs people about the project. You can also build a fence around the garden and invite everyone from the community to participate in the growing season. During harvest time, remove ripe goods as quickly as possible.