community garden

A Complete Guide to Starting a Community Garden

community garden

Anyone looking to spend more time with their neighbors, and support their community, should consider starting a garden. They’re excellent resources for socializing, providing food assistance and learning alongside each other. Read this guide to learn how to start one and which benefits of community gardens you could be enjoying as soon as this month.

1. Discuss Where It Should Grow

As you learn how to start a community garden, you’ll need to consider where it will exist. You should find available land with soil that drains well and isn’t near sources of pollution, like a local landfill.

The average community garden is between 100 and 400 square feet, but your group can adjust the size if you want to start small and add more plants later. Public land, like a local park, might be a great location. You’ll have to contact your local government or parks department to discuss if the zoning restrictions prevent or allow gardening on a particular lot.

Many community garden clubs purchase an unused lot from a county resident. If they don’t want to sell part of their land, they might be open to renting the space for your garden, if a lawyer drafts a lease. If there’s no available soil nearby, urban residents could opt for an above-ground community garden by building raised garden beds.

2. Create Your Gardening Club

Your garden will be more successful with an organized group ensuring its well-being. Get a few passionate, local gardeners together to decide things like:

  • Who will be your club president?
  • Will you use a volunteer board to vote on decisions and changes?
  • What will you plant?
  • What will the schedule for your garden’s care look like?
  • Will you change your plants seasonally?
  • Who will have access and reap the rewards?

Record anything you decide in a written document so the rules are clear for everyone. As you talk, you’ll cover these essential topics and other issues specific to your location.

Remember to open the possibility for teenagers and young kids to join your club alongside their families. When students get involved in community gardens, it fosters a sense of empowerment because they’re helping the environment as they learn about climate change in school.

3. Determine How You’ll Raise Money

There are over 6,000 domesticated plant species you could potentially add to your garden, but each selection will add to your overall budget. You’ll also need funding to maintain whatever you plant, especially if your garden is sizable.

After considering how much each gardening club member can donate, discuss other opportunities like fundraising events or eventually selling some of your vegetables and flowers. Sponsorships from local businesses, political parties or private investors can also ensure your community garden has enough money to last longer than a season.

4. Market Your New Garden

A garden only becomes a community effort when people learn it exists. Raise awareness of your garden’s location and how people can get involved through marketing efforts. You could post about it in local social media groups or your town’s newspaper. If you have enough funding, you could even create a small commercial to play during your local morning news. 

Your marketing strategies should discuss the benefits of community gardens, as well as practical details like its location. Mention if food is free to take when the vegetables are ready to harvest or how it can double as community volunteering for anyone planning on applying to college.

Families with young kids could teach their children about healthy food by showing them how farmers raise vegetables. You’ll get more people involved by showing how your garden will improve their lives, besides filling their plates or flower vases.

5. Schedule Regular Meetings

Your garden club will need to meet regularly to discuss housekeeping details. You’ll need everyone’s agreement on things such as:

  • When you’ll start working on your land
  • When you’ll plant your first seeds
  • What the watering schedule will look like
  • Who’s responsible for watering plants each week
  • Who’s responsible for weeding the garden regularly

Part of learning how to start a community garden is also accepting things might change. Recurring meetings are opportunities to discuss how your rules and schedule are going. If people are struggling to keep up with your initial care routine or guidelines, you can adjust them as needed.

When it’s time to meet up, you might get more done by talking about these things while tending to your plants. If your meetings happen in your garden, don’t forget to protect everyone from sunburns by providing a bottle or two of sunscreen.

Start Your Community Garden This Year

Now that you’ve read about the benefits of community gardens, consider starting one for your neighborhood this year. It should only take a week or two to gather volunteers, raise funding and start planting seeds. You’ll quickly form a new sense of community with other people passionate about plants and spending time with their neighbors.

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