Gardens brighten our world with a plethora of rich colors and attractive smells while providing us with fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. In a community garden, families can grow their own cooking ingredients, and enjoy the beauty a community garden has to offer. Starting a community garden can also cut down the cost of groceries. Community gardens ultimately promote healthier and greener lifestyles … as well as a sense of community:)
Selecting a Planning Committee
Before planning can begin, those who are interested in starting a community garden must have a meeting. A planning committee for the community garden must be formed, either formally or informally. An informal selection works well because individuals with good leadership and dedication will usually step up for the challenge. Whether the committee is selected formally or informally, each planning committee member should have the time and capability to be active and productive.
Determining How the Garden Will Be Funded
There are three easy ways to raise funds for a community garden. The first way is through a sponsor. Sponsors may donate money, seeds, plants, or other supplies that might be needed. The second avenue to raise funds is to charge members for their plots. This way the members are keeping the community garden running effectively. Lastly, the community may have a fundraiser in order to raise enough money to start a garden.
Select a Site
While evaluating a possible site, it is important to test the soil for certain metals, nutrients, and for any contamination. Contaminated soil or soil that lacks proper nutrients may not be good for growing. The growing area should also get six full hours of sunlight daily, in order to grow a successful community garden.
If the location is suitable, then a one- to two-year lease or agreement should be obtained. If the community decides that the community garden should be permanent, there might be a need to purchase the site. In the beginning, the lease or agreement is less of a commitment.
Supplies will vary slightly depending on the type of garden. Some basic supplies that might be needed include: fresh soil, seeds, mulch, pathways, nutrients, feed, fertilizer, hose, spray nozzle, spray bottles, pump sprayer, hammer, florist tape or string, scissors, stakes, trellises, shears, saws, rakes, shovels, garden forks, wheelbarrows, bed frames, water, fencing, a shed, and a rainproof bulletin board. An irrigation system is optional, although it may cost more. An irrigation system can make maintenance much easier. Pesticides are also optional but not recommended and better to avoid.
Begin Preparation for the Garden
The ground should be cleared of garbage and the soil cleaned of any contamination. Every community garden looks different and has a different layout so a design must be worked out for the garden. In the design, flowers or shrub beds should be placed around the garden’s visible perimeter. This is not only for aesthetic purposes but it also prevents thieving and damage to fruits and vegetables. Somewhere in the design there needs to be some sort of storage area and a bulletin board. A shed is perfect for storing gardening supplies and tool. A bulletin board is essential to easily post rules, information, and news for community garden members. It is important to have a bulletin board that is waterproof to prevent damages to postings.
The planning committee should decide on reasonable plot sizes to divide the garden. Preparing the soil can be done all at once or individuals may prepare their own plot. The land will need to be plowed, and a fresh layer of soil may need to be applied. Nutrients should be added to the soil if there is a deficiency. Bed frames should be used to separate each plot.
Determine Rules and Regulations for the Garden
Much like any organization, rules or guidelines must be put into place to ensure that they are smooth and effective. The minimum amount of maintenance required needs to be determined as well as the consequences of not achieving this minimum. Be sure to discuss situations such as someone no longer wanting his or her plot, the process of new occupants being chosen, and ensuring bylaws are being followed before starting the garden. The community garden members should know how the funds are being used, especially if they are being charged for their plots. Once rules and regulations are decided upon, they should be posted on the bulletin board for reference.
Insuring the Garden
Gardening insurance can protect your community garden against theft, and damage. The best way to get the cheapest rates on insurance is to consult an agent with a firm that looks into a variety of carriers.
Managing the Garden
Create a name for your gardening organization. Now that the garden is ready to grow, rules are posted, and everything is insured, it is time to manage the garden. An application form makes it easier to select individuals for plots. When all the plots are taken, and seeds are planted, the garden is officially up and running. At this time, a few people may need to be appointed to act as managers.