How To Start Your Own Community Garden In 6 Simple Steps

Community gardens come in all shapes and sizes, from planted patches to raised beds, from city rooftops to schoolyards. Most community gardeners have a common interest in organic vegetables, but others might be interested in increasing accessibility for fresh fruit and vegetables in their local area or teaching environmental education. Community gardens significantly contribute to bettering the surrounding environment. These gardens are a means through which people of all demographic backgrounds can unite, grow food, and share both nutrition and cultural traditions. 

Being a boon for the environment, the community garden will provide a positive space for emotional friendly connections between the community along with beautification of the area and health benefits for all beings. Community gardens can grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers and/or plants. Additionally, individuals can have their plots or people can collectively garden one piece of land.

Here is a small guide in a nutshell to build your own community garden in six simple steps.  These steps include creating a vision for the garden and what it will include, getting the community involved, securing a garden site, creating garden rules and a design, putting these ideas into action and beginning to garden. So let’s get started;

Envisioning stage

Community gardens start with 'community.' Everyone pitches in and pulls their weight, like taking turns raking or watering the plants. When you first begin tending to the garden, make sure to recruit people who are committed to helping out; it makes things go smoothly if everyone has a task that they understand how to do because, sooner or later, you'll likely need to delegate jobs that other people can handle easily. Once the planning committee has formulated its visions, goals and objectives for the community garden project, the team wants to make sure they are clearly defined. To help with this task, below are some questions that can be considered when it comes to defining what type of garden the team hopes to create. 

  • What type of garden do we want to start? 
  • Who is the garden for? 
  • What sort of programs could we run out of the garden? 
  • Where could the garden be located? 
  • Within what area should we search for land? 
  • What is the goal for the garden completion date? 
  • How will the garden be laid out? 

The answers to these questions will be used as basic guidelines when devising the action plan for creating a sustainable community garden that's both efficient and run by a group of members who are passionate about bringing the dream of growing their own food to life.

Asset mapping & funding Map out individual’s talents and skills, associations, businesses, government, local ecology and related assets in the community meetings. When you have meetings, consider asking everyone to share a skill or passion and keep track of what each individual brings to the table. Supporting community garden growth and sustainability requires a bit of funding.

 

    A. Site Assessment Criteria and Selection Process include
    • Sunlight
    • Shade
    • Soil
    • Water access
    • Topography 
    • Power
    • Compositing area
    • Shed or tool area
    • Parking access
    • Neighbourhood
    B. Acquiring Permission to Use Land for Community Gardens
    • Finding out who owns the property?
    • How is the property zoned?
    • Seeking permission to use privately owned land
    • Considering all pros and cons before leasing the land along with a  legal review of the lease agreement.
    • Insurance planning

     

    Develop the Budget

    The budget your group develops will be very rough and only an approximation of future costs. It will still be a useful tool to use as a guide in future planning for fundraising, determining membership fees, etc.

    • Resources, such as land, privately or publicly owned property, residential land, workplaces, lumber, soil, water, seeds, and tools.
    • Organize fundraising either Door-to-Door Solicitation, Direct-Mail Appeals etc.

    Find & secure the site

    Visit your potential garden sites and perform a ‘Site Assessment’, to decide if the site would work for your garden. Talk with the neighbours of potential sites to make sure a community garden would be welcome. 

    • Look for an empty property that gets at least 6-8 hours of sun every day.
    • The location should be somewhat flat (although slight slopes can be terraced).
    • Should be reasonably clear of big chunks of concrete left behind following construction demolition.
    • Any debris should be manageable, meaning that it can be removed by volunteers cleaning the lot.
    • It should be surrounded by a fence.
    • A location with no pavement and soil that is reasonably free of garbage and waste is ideal.
    • The garden project's brief overview includes assessing the soil and environmental conditions of the location, gaining access to water, and selecting plants and seeds accordingly.

    Develop site design & Garden rules

    Basic elements to be taken care of include;

    • Access to water
    • In-ground or raised beds
    • Finalize supply list
    • An adjacent delivery site for large quantities of wood chips and compost
    • Benches 
    • A fence around the perimeter
    • A sign with the garden’s name, address
    • Safety-security and accessibility
    • Hiring a gardener 
    • Setting garden rules that may include pointers like vandalism, security, communication, trash & weeds usage, maintenance membership plans, children safety measures, pet-specific rules, and what happens if not followed.
    Form committees

    Communication between the garden committee and gardeners is very important and setting up a communication plan is a good way to keep the information flowing. 

    • Arranging each job into sub-committees is an effective and useful method to handle what may appear to some to be an overwhelming list of chores. Avoid being overwhelmed by concentrating on one stage at a time.
    • Have a sign-up and request that all garden members get involved in a committee group like maintenance committee, compost crew, event planning team, fundraising committee etc.

    Community gardens are an invaluable asset to our health, safety, and especially well-being. The process of beginning community gardens can be an empowering one to work together to create something good out of something that used to be harmful or unappealing.

    So, here is your community garden! Get gardening! All the hard work you have put into making this garden a reality can be utilized by planting, enjoying and harvesting your plants. Continue to build and grow the garden, spread the work out over several years and engage volunteers whenever possible.